RUSH: I got an email during the break. “Rush, you confused me on this Rule 19 versus 60 votes. Could you go through this again?” Let me do it very quickly and then I’m gonna go at it in the other direction. In the Senate, you need 60 votes for anything. The way it happens, it’s called a filibuster, but it really isn’t a filibuster. It’s just a Senate rule. It’s been around for a long time. Don’t ask why, what’s the logic. It just is. The Senate is supposed to slow down things. Passing laws was supposed to be hard to do.
The Founding Fathers didn’t want a growing government. They didn’t want a lot of laws. The Senate was designed to bottle everything up. Sixty votes, not a simple majority. In 2013, Harry Reid came along and said, “It’s not fair,” and he wanted to pack the courts with Obama-appointed judges. So he implemented what’s called “the nuclear option” and got rid of the rule requiring 60 votes for legislation and for district court judges. Not Supreme Court judges, but district court, appellate judges, everything else. It was called the nuclear option because it blew up decades of Senate tradition.
Sixty votes are still needed, not to pass legislation, but to end debate on any item. And that is the key to understanding Rule 19’s application. You need 60 votes in the Senate to stop debate on anything, and then, after you get that, that’s called cloture, and then you vote on the actual legislation. You can get cloture with 60 votes and have the thing pass by only 55-45, but you have to have 60 to stop debate and go to the actual vote. The way Rule 19 works, it eliminates the 60 votes to stop debate and replaces it with a rule that says senators can only speak twice about a single subject during a legislative day.
Whoever runs the Senate can define what a legislative day is. So McConnell will define the legislative day as the Senate not going into recess and the subject would be Gorsuch’s confirmation. He’ll invoke Rule 19, and the part of it that says senators can only speak twice about it. When every senator who wants to has spoken twice about Gorsuch, that is the same as getting 60 votes to stop debate. Rule 19 says that debate is over if a single Senate legislative day has taken place with no interruptions, and McConnell could be in charge of that.
Once every senator has spoken twice about Gorsuch, it’s over. Debate is over, and you move to the vote. You don’t need 60 votes in this case because Rule 19 replaces the need for 60 votes with a limit on senators’ debate to two speaking terms. They can go as long as they want. This could take 48 to 50 hours to do. But, after every Democrat senator has spoken twice, it’s over, and you go to the vote. So the reason this is being discussed as relevant is because Rule 19’s invoked really quickly last night, and it’s very seldom invoked.
So Senate watchers are thinking, “Hey, you know McConnell and the boys are looking at Rule 19 here, and the reason they’re looking at it is because they so quickly invoked it against Fauxcahontas!” By the way, this is just a theory. These are people speculating that this is what McConnell might do. Nobody said this is gonna happen. What is known is that McConnell, who’s a great traditionalist, does not want to have to use the nuclear option on Supreme Court nominees. He cares more about the traditions of the Senate than Harry Reid did.
But I think, if push came to shove, he would. But they’re trying every which way they can to get Gorsuch confirmed without going nuclear, so to speak. So I hope that… Mr. Snerdley, was that a little bit more…? (interruption) Okay. Good. Good, good, good. Nobody knows whether that’s gonna happen, but it’s a possibility. I know what you’re saying, “Well, wait a minute. What if Elizabeth wants to talk for a week?” Well, she can’t. I mean, she cannot leave the floor. Senator cannot leave the floor. It becomes a filibuster in the sense that senators can only speak twice.
But they can’t pass it off to somebody else and then come back. It would take a while. Not every Republican would speak twice. The debate’s gonna be irrelevant anyway. Gorsuch is gonna get the votes. All of this is just, “How do you get there? How do you get to the vote? Do you invoke Rule 19?” I’ll tell you the way they really want it to happen is to get enough Democrats to vote for the guy to get to 60 without having to play any games. And they might, because more and more Democrats are coming out for Gorsuch and signaling that there’s no reason to oppose the guy.
So it’s all gonna work out now.