WASHINGTON, April 6 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to change filibuster rules after the Democratic Party blocked Neil Gorsuch's nomination for Supreme Court Justice.
The 52-48 party line vote dictates that a simple majority can confirm Gorsuch's nomination, lowering the threshold from the previous filibuster rules where 60 votes are needed for the confirmation.
The vote, called a nuclear option by the GOP, followed a 55-45 Senate vote earlier in the day in which the Democrats blocked the nomination using filibuster rules.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he initiated the nuclear option as the filibuster of Gorsuch was a drastic and unprecedented move from the Democrats.
"This threatened filibuster cannot be allowed to succeed or to continue for the sake of the Senate, for the sake of the court and for the sake of our country," the Kentucky senator said.
According to previous filibuster rules, the party that is at disadvantage on a issue may use prolonged speeches or other measures to stall the voting process on the floor, and only a consensus of over 60 Senators can end the filibuster, which in practice means over 60 supporters in certain votes are needed, even though only a simple majority is needed in theory.
The Senate is expected to hold another vote Friday on the nomination of Gorsuch, which is expected to pass under the new rule.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it was more sensible for U.S. President Donald Trump to choose another candidate over Gorsuch, who enjoyed good ratings in with the American Bar Association, hinting the Democratic Party's resistance was linked to the GOP's refusal to approve Obama-picked Merrick Garland as Supreme Court Justice last year.
McConnell said the GOP had voted overwhelmingly for a Justice nominated by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and should not be responsible for the partisan feud.
The spat over Gorsuch's nomination reflects a long running discord in the U.S. Congress where the two major political parties have become increasingly divided over a number of issues, including tax, health care, environment and government spending.