00:50 - Source: CNN
Trump: 'Go nuclear' if we don't get vote

Story highlights

"I hope we don't have to go there," Flake said.

Trump has urged Republicans in the Senate to "go nuclear," if necessary, to confirm Gorsuch.

(CNN) —  

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said Wednesday that Senate Republicans might have to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” of eliminating the filibuster in order to confirm Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Calling President Donald Trump’s nominee “an awesome pick,” Flake said on the Mike Broomhead Show on 550 KFYI Arizona radio that he hoped Republicans would be able to confirm Gorsuch with Democratic help, but that they may not be able to.

“I hope we don’t have to go there,” Flake said of eliminating the filibuster. “As we know, the nuclear option’s been pulled from the President’s executive calendar, with the exception of the Supreme Court picks. If we did have to pull it for the Supreme Court, all that would do would be basically to return the Senate to where it was and has traditionally been prior to 2003 when nobody ever filibustered a court pick. So, I hope we don’t have to do that, but in the end, we may have to. Obviously, we want to preserve the legislative filibuster.”

Trump has urged Republicans in the Senate to “go nuclear,” if necessary, to confirm Gorsuch. Getting rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees would mean that Republicans could confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority, as opposed to the 60 votes required to break a filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to answer a question on Fox News Tuesday night about whether he would invoke the nuclear option to confirm Gorsuch. McConnell responded to Trump’s encouragement to get rid of the filibuster last week by saying, “That’s not a presidential decision. That’s a Senate decision.” He added, “We’re going to get this nominee confirmed.”

In Wednesday’s radio interview, Flake speculated that some Democrats may not be able to “help themselves” from trying to obstruct Gorsuch.

“There’s some talk here that the Democrats will save their ammunition for the pick that will shift the balance on the court,” he said. “This simply maintains the balance that existed last year before Scalia passed on. So yeah, there is some talk of that, but I don’t know, some of the folks here – like I said, they announced it before the pick was even named – I don’t know if they can help themselves.”