Senate Democrat Speaks for 15 Hours Straight

Jeff Merkley spoke out about Neil Gorsuch, but didn't actually delay the vote
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2017 11:47 AM CDT
Senate Democrat Speaks for 15 Hours Straight
In this frame grab from video provided by Senate Television, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. speaks on the floor of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 5, 2017.    (Senate Television via AP)

Sen. Jeff Merkley started talking on the Senate floor at about 6:50pm Tuesday and didn't yield until 10:14am Wednesday. No, it wasn't a filibuster, but the Oregon Democrat was speaking out against President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the Hill reports. Merkley, a longtime opponent of Gorsuch's nomination, said it's important not to allow him to fill a "stolen seat" on the high court, and talked about how "ugly" the Senate had gotten over the nomination fight. When Republicans last year refused to even consider then-President Obama's nominee for the seat, they essentially "decided to steal a Supreme Court seat," Merkley said, per the New York Times. "Such a theft never, ever has happened in the history of our nation."

Sen. Dick Durbin also spoke for a bit around 6:30am, and numerous other senators cheered Merkley on via social media. But ultimately, the 15-plus-hour speech won't delay anything; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture before Merkley's speech Tuesday, meaning an automatic procedural vote will go forward Thursday morning. That's when Democrats will stage the actual filibuster; they have enough opposing votes to block Gorsuch, but Republicans are then expected to exercise the "nuclear option," changing the rules of the chamber in order to allow Gorsuch to be confirmed on a simple majority vote. They are determined to confirm him by Friday and have him on the court by late this month. (A new wrinkle might have just cropped up for Gorsuch.)

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