Democrats Successfully Filibuster Neil Gorsuch
Justin Sullivan

This article originally appeared on Time. 

Democrats just pulled off the first-ever partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee, blocking the vote to end debate on Neil Gorsuch’s nomination.

Democrats were able to raise more than 40 votes against cloture Thursday morning, thereby denying the 60 votes needed to approve the measure and proceed to a confirmation vote on the nominee. The final vote count was 55 in favor of cloture, 45 against it.

The events on the Senate floor were dramatic, but not surprising. Democrats sewed up the votes for a successful filibuster on Monday, so both parties have spent the week jockeying for position in the media and preparing for Thursday’s showdown.

Preventing cloture is a temporary win for Democrats. But Republicans know the filibuster may actually help them more, because it paves the way for them to trigger the so-called nuclear option, which changes Senate rules and will ensure easier confirmations for any future Supreme Court vacancies under President Trump.

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That’s what Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will do next: raise a “point of order” on the Senate floor to allow Gorsuch to proceed to a confirmation vote without getting the 60 votes needed for cloture. Just as Democrats were expected to raise the votes to block cloture, so too are Republicans expected to have the 51 votes they need to go nuclear.

“This will be the first, and last, partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nomination,” McConnell declared Thursday.

Then, after 30 more hours of debate, Gorsuch will be confirmed by a simple majority vote Friday. But the contentious battle to get him there will have changed future confirmation processes forever.

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