Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley took to the Senate floor just before 7 p.m. ET Tuesday vowing to talk “as long as I’m able” to protest Republicans’ 2016 blockade of President Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat, Merrick Garland — in the latest disruption on the road to a vote for President Trump’s nominee.
Merkley’s staff streamed the video of him on the Senate floor. So far, the Democratic senator has spoken for over 13 hours.
“Make no mistake: this is a stolen seat — & if this theft is completed, it will undermine the integrity of the court for decades,” Merkley tweeted as he began.
His endurance was praised by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who tweeted, “Go, @SenJeffMerkley, Go! #StopGorsuch #HoldTheFloor.”
Merkley’s speech wasn’t expected to delay Wednesday’s debate on Trump’s nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch or votes expected Thursday and Friday — when Republicans are increasingly likely to use the so-called “nuclear option” to push through a Democratic filibuster.
Senators of both parties bemoaned the further erosion of their traditions of bipartisanship and consensus. Some were already predicting that they would end up eliminating the 60-vote requirement for legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell McConnell committed Tuesday that would not happen under his watch.