The Republican-controlled Senate invoked the "nuclear option" by voting to end the filibuster rule in order to overcome Democrat resistance against the appointment of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
Senators voted 52-48 along party lines to eliminate the filibuster, which would have allowed Democrats to delay a vote to confirm Gorsuch if 60 Senators hadn't approved of his nomination, which would have been a likely scenario with only three Democrats announcing they would vote for the nominee.
"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 our country," said Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate majority leader, according to The Hill.
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate Minority Leader, lamented the vote and said Republicans could have avoided using the nuclear option by asking President Donald Trump to appoint another nominee to the Supreme Court.
“We believe the Republican Party has been far more aggressive in the escalation of tactics and in the selection of extreme judicial candidates, while Democrats have tended to select judges closer to the middle," he said on the Senate floor before the vote.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona did not hold back his view of the nuclear option.
"Idiot, whoever says that is a stupid idiot, who has not been here and seen what I’ve been through and how we were able to avoid that on several occasions," McCain said one day before the vote, according to The Washington Post. "And they are stupid and they’ve deceived their voters because they are so stupid."
Despite McCain's strong feelings against using the nuclear option, he voted for it.
Back in 2013, Democrats invoked the nuclear option to overcome Republican resistance to former President Barack Obama's judicial nominees to the federal courts.
"It’s a sad day in the history of the Senate," McConnell told reporters at the time. He also called the move a Democratic "power grab."
"Democrats won’t be in power in perpetuity," said Republican Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama at the time. "This is a mistake -- a big one for the long run. Maybe not for the short run. Short-term gains, but I think it changes the Senate tremendously in a bad way."
"The solution to this problem is at the ballot box," McConnell said after the 2013 Democratic Party's use of the nuclear option. "We look forward to having a great election in 2014."
The Republican Party went on to re-claim the majority in the Senate in 2014 by winning 56 seats, according to The New York Times.