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On the Decision of the Chair PN211: Roy Kalman Altman, of Florida, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida

Apr 3, 2019 at 5:16 p.m. ET.

This was the "nuclear option" vote, the second of seven votes on the three presidential nominations. In this vote, the Senate changed its rules for cloture votes on presidential nominations from requiring a 3/5ths threshold of elected senators to a simple majority vote.

Why the vote was taken

A vote on cloture is a vote to limit further debate and move to an up-or-down vote, in other words to prevent a filibuster. In a previous vote, on a resolution to to shorten the time the Senate may debate presidential nominees failed to reach the 3/5ths threshold. In this vote the Senate changed its rules so that they could bypass the filibuster when approving presidential nominations.

McConnell's point of order

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader, raised a point of order that the Senate's rules only permit two hours of debate for presidential nominations. This was untrue. The resolution that would have made such a rule was filibustered in a previous vote. McConnell raised the point of order strategically, knowing that his point of order would be ruled against by the chair, so that he could force a vote.

The chair ruled against McConnell.

What yea and nay mean

In this vote, the Senate is voting on the ruling of the chair. A vote in favor was a vote to keep the chair's ruling that the Senate may debate approval of presidential nominations for 30 hours. A vote against was a vote to adopt McConnell's contention in the point of order. Although the chair's ruling was an accurate, this vote was intended as a means to change the Senate's rules going forward. The vote required a simple majority.

The result

The vote failed, meaning the chair's ruling was overruled by the senators present, and McConnell's statement was adopted as the Senate's new rule. The new rule is that debate on some presidential nominations may not last more than two hours, rather than the old rule of 30 hours.

This procedure has been used twice before: once by Republicans in 2017 to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and before that by Democrats in 2013 to prevent filibuster of presidential nominees.

Totals

All Votes R D I
Yea 48%
 
 
 
48
2
 
44
 
2
 
Nay 51%
 
 
 
51
51
 
0
 
0
 
Not Voting 1%
 
 
 
1
0
 
1
 
0
 

Decision of Chair Not Sustained. Simple Majority Required. Source: senate.gov.

The Nay votes represented 47% of the country’s population by apportioning each state’s population to its voting senators.

Ideology Vote Chart

Key: R Yea D Yea R Nay
Seat position based on our ideology score.

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Vote Details

Notes: “Aye” or “Yea”?
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Statistically Notable Votes

Statistically notable votes are the votes that are most surprising, or least predictable, given how other members of each voter’s party voted and other factors.

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