Gorsuch: Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley speaks for more than 15 hours to block SCOTUS pick



Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley took to the floor of the chamber for more than 15 hours Tuesday and Wednesday to protest President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

The Democrat had promised to speak "for as long I am able" as the clock ticked down toward the Washington Easter recess at the end of the week. His point was that Gorsuch should not be considered until the investigation into alleged ties between Trump and Russia has been completed.

The former triathlete began at approximately 6:45 p.m. ET Tuesday and had to yield the floor at about 10:15 a.m. ET Wednesday. The first he did was use the restroom. Then, he delivered bagels to his staff.

"When we look how it's going to reverberate for decades to come, it's just really bad news for the Senate and it's terrible news for the court," a visibly exhausted Merkley told reporters.

RELATED: Inside the hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

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Inside the hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch
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Inside the hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch
With his wife Louise looking on,U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017.
U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017.
U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017.
Former U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) (from L) and Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch's wife Marie Louise Gorsuch listen to opening statements from fellow senators during the first day of Gorsuch's Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
With his wife Louise looking on, U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
With his wife Louise (2ndL) and former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (L) looking on,U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the second day of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Neil Gorsuch (C) leaves after his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing as US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill, in Washington March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool
Neil Gorsuch takes an oath during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing as US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill, in Washington March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool
U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch is embraced by his wife Marie Louise after he thanked her in his opening statement at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Neil Gorsuch takes an oath during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing as US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill, in Washington March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch looks at his papers as he delivers his opening remarks at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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The record speaking time in the Senate is held by Strom Thurmond, the South Carolina senator who talked for over 24 hours in protest of civil rights legislation in 1957.

Merkley highlighted Republicans' desire to confirm Gorsuch and their opposition last year to President Barack Obama's pick, Merrick Garland, saying the SCOTUS seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia had been "stolen" by the GOP.

The speech didn't delay the debate or votes.

Speaking next to a board featuring the words "We the People" from the Constitution, he said: "I plan to keep speaking for quite a while longer, as long as I'm able."

His efforts were followed overnight on C-SPAN and inspired the social media hashtags #StopGorsuch and #HoldTheFloor.

Gorsuch is especially unpopular with both of Oregon's senators because of his views on assisted suicide laws, according to The Oregonian which reported the senator's move in a live blog.

Before Merkley began speaking, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted Gorsuch would be confirmed this week.

He said Republicans have enough votes for the so-called "nuclear option" of permanently changing rules that require the support of 60 senators. Such a change would impact future Supreme Court nominees and reduce the influence of the minority party.

Lawmakers were preparing to leave Washington for Easter recess at the end of the week. Despite many expressing concern about how the fight could forever change the Senate and the nation's highest court, members of both parties have remained firm in their respective partisan corners.

Republicans say that it's up to Democrats to stand down and allow Gorsuch to pass. They blame Democrats for ratcheting up a confirmation battle over a jurist that they say is well within the mainstream.

Related: What is the Nuclear Option and Why Does it Matter?

Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, however, says that McConnell has a choice and can ask President Donald Trump to send a new nominee.

"Both sides I know are pointing fingers at the other in this debate — saying that the other side started it. We did not even get our nominee, when Sen. McConnell broke 230 years of Senate precedent, didn't even allow Judge Garland a hearing or a vote," Schumer said Tuesday.

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