Two big news from Washington, D.C. - related with politics:
Senate Republicans went with the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules to allow Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s appointee for the empty Supreme Court Justice seat, be voted in with a simple majority of at least 51 votes instead of the previous requirement of 60 votes. He is expected to be confirmed sometime tomorrow.
This rule change is considered to be extreme — as it “dissolves” the bipartisan (having both Democrats and Republicans work together) tradition of the U.S. Senate to confirm Supreme Court justice. When Gorsuch is appointed, it will be the first time in the Senate’s 230-year history that a Supreme justice is appointed with a simple majority.
Republicans blame Democrats for not working with them to appoint what they view as a highly-qualified person. Democrats say Gorsuch is not a good pick and they are still “mad” about Republicans blocking Obama’s pick for the empty seat — Merrick Garland.
Sen. McCain has warned that this will make it easier for future presidents to appoint justices that are very far left or far right — because there is no longer a need for consensus within the Senate chamber — as long as there are at least 51 votes either party.
So — tomorrow we should see Gorsuch confirmed to become a member of the Supreme Court. He’ll serve a lifetime term.
—— The second news is:
California Rep. Devin Nunes (R), who is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, will recuse himself from leading the investigation in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump team.
He was leading the investigation and made an announcement a few weeks ago that during intelligence surveilling of foregin targets, there were “unmasking” of Trump and people on his team.
“Unmasking” is a term meant to describe identities of U.S. citizens that are exposed during investigations — usually when foregin targets are investigated, U.S. citizens have their identities “masked.” But Nunes announced that someone “unmasked” the identities of Trump and other people and that it concerned him — so he made the public announcement at the White House without consulting with his own committee first.
Nunes later said he got the information from a secret source in the White House. This raised immediate controversy as Nunes was supposed to be “neutral” and acting outside of any influence from the White House. People also said he disclosed classified information.
After several people filed ethics complaints, Nunes has now announced that he is recusing himself. Now Rep. Conaway from Texas (R) will take over the Russia investigation.