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Here's what the heck happened with Neil Gorsuch Thursday

Democrats filibuster, Republicans go 'nuclear' – we explain what it all means.

The U.S. Senate cleared the way for President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, to be confirmed. A lot of things happened in a very short amount of time Thursday that got us to this point, so we'll break it down for you.

The filibuster

Democrats, in an effort to block Gorsuch's nomination, used a filibuster. In response, the Senate took a vote on whether to end the filibuster (a process known as cloture). Republicans needed 60 votes to end the filibuster.

The vote was 55-45, – with Minnesota's U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar voting to keep the filibuster going, as they said they would.

So Republicans, who control 52 of the 100 seats in the Senate, couldn't force an end to the filibuster.

That whole 'nuclear' thing

Then just minutes later, Republicans went "nuclear."

Senate Majority Leader and Republican Mitch McConnell moved to permanently change Senate rules – this is referred to as the nuclear option – so only a simple majority of 51 votes is needed to end the Supreme Court filibuster. Not 60.

That motion passed, and the Senate then voted 55-45 to end the Democrats' filibuster under the new rules.

All this happened in a matter of hours Thursday. (You can read all the politicking surrounding the votes from The Associated Press here.)

So what next?

It essentially guarantees Gorsuch will be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, because Republicans already have the 51 votes they need.

A vote on Gorsuch's confirmation could come Friday evening, the New York Times says.

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