Florida’s U.S. senators have split over the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, setting the stage for an explosive showdown between national Democrats and Republicans.
Florida’s senior democratic Sen. Bill Nelson joined a filibuster Thursday morning opposing Gorsuch.
The Senate ended the debate by a 55-45 vote in the morning. By the afternoon, Senate Republicans had crushed the filibuster, approving the “nuclear” rule change which would allow for a simple majority to confirm Gorsuch as the country’s next Supreme Court justice, requiring only 51 votes to advance Gorsuch’s nomination.
The move doesn’t come as a surprise since Nelson said he would vote against Gorsuch’s confirmation last month.
“Deciding whether to confirm a president's nominee for the highest court in the land is a responsibility I take very seriously,” Nelson said in a statement. “Over the past few weeks, I have met with Judge Gorsuch, listened to the Judiciary Committee's hearings and reviewed his record with an open mind.”
Nelson went on to say some of Gorsuch’s positions, like allowing unlimited money in political campaigns, caused him grave concern and ultimately made him decide to vote against the Colorado appellate court judge’s confirmation.
Rubio, on the other hand, voted in favor of Gorsuch and in favor of taking the “nuclear” option to change the Senate rules.
Nelson’s actions didn’t go unnoticed. The National Republican Senatorial Committee was quick to pounce on Nelson’s attempt to block the vote on Gorsuch, saying his decision was wholly out of line with Floridians’ priorities.
“Bill Nelson blatantly disregarded the will of voters by attempting to block a vote on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination,” said NRSC Communications Director Katie Martin. “Floridians deserve a Senator who is unafraid to stand up to the obstructionist leadership of Chuck Schumer. Today, Nelson made it clear he’s not that guy.”
Meanwhile, in Florida, Trump urged his supporters to “Gather for Gorsuch” Thursday afternoon at the Florida Capitol to call on U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to oppose a Democratic filibuster against Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The rally pushed for Nelson to change his mind and vote in favor of Gorsuch, but ultimately ended up being a fruitless endeavor.
A full vote on Gorsuch’s nomination is scheduled to take place before noon on Friday.