Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell left the door open to using the “nuclear option” and eliminate the Senate’s rule requiring 60 votes to confirm Supreme Court justices if Democrats attempt a filibuster.
“I haven’t said what will happen at that point. I’m confident we will get 60 votes,” the Kentucky Republican told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday.
His comment comes as some liberal Democrats push fellow party members to block President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.
There are 52 Senate Republicans, but they would need 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster. McConnell hopes to get enough crossover votes from Democrats to approve Gorsuch. But he could change the Senate rules in order to make a simple majority – 51 votes – enough to overcome the procedural hurdles. It would be similar to what then-Majority Leader Harry Reid did to confirm lower court Obama appointees.
Trump had told McConnell that he should “go nuclear” – meaning change the Senate rules – if necessary to get Gorsuch confirmed.
McConnell wouldn’t commit either way but did not take that option off the table.
“I’m very confident he will be confirmed,” McConnell said. As for how, he said, “I would say that is up to our Democratic friends.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said on “State of the Union” that “there’s no question the nomination should get serious debate and have 60 votes.” He said it would be “absolutely unacceptable” for McConnell to change the rules.
“Look, Obama’s nominations required 60 votes. So should Trump’s, absolutely,” Sanders said.