The Senate continued consideration of the nomination of Priscilla Owen as a judge for the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Following a bipartisan compromise reached among 14 senators the previous evening, the Senate voted 89 to 18 to invoke cloture on the nomination.
Judge Owen was the first of seven nominations which had been filibustered by the Democrats, the minority party. The Republicans who held a 55 vote majority had proposed changing the confirmation process through a ruling from the President of the Senate, upheld by a majority of Senate, that votes on judicial nominees not be subject to a filibuster. This would have changed Senate rules by allowing confirmation by a simple majority vote without having to invoke cloture on debate. This was popularly referred to as the “nuclear option” because of its potential impact on the normal procedure of business in the Senate.
Debate was evenly divided by time blocks allocated to each party.