(UPI) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed this week, which suggests he’ll invoke the so-called “nuclear option” if Democrats attempt to filibuster the selection.
“Judge Gorsuch is going to be confirmed,” McConnell said in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “The way in which that occurs is in the hands of the Democratic minority.”
Last week, McConnell announced that the Senate would vote on Gorsuch this Friday before lawmakers leave Washington for a two-week recess.
It will take at least eight Democrats to back the 52 Republicans to confirm Donald Trump’s selection if the minority party attempts to filibuster the pick.
“It’s highly, highly unlikely that he’ll get to 60,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on NBC’s Meet the Press, urging the party to “sit down and try to come up with a mainstream nominee.”
The Republicans could vote to change the chamber’s rules to cut off filibusters on Supreme Court nominations with a simple majority.
McConnell did not say directly whether he would trigger the nuclear option, which means all future nominations can be made with the simple majority.
“How that happens really depends on our Democratic friends, how many of them are willing to oppose cloture on a partisan basis to kill a Supreme Court nominee, never happened before in history, the whole history of the country,” he said on NBC.
McConnell harshly criticized Democrats in 2013 for changing the Senate’s rules to allow confirmation of other presidential nominees, including Cabinet appointees, by a simple majority.
“Even though I very much disliked the way the Senate Democrats did this in 2013, in effect it restored the practice, the practice and the custom of the Senate” of not filibustering judicial nominees, McConnell said on Fox.
On Sunday, a third Democrat — Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly — announced that he will support the Gorsuch nomination, joining Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
“After meeting with Judge Gorsuch, conducting a thorough review of his record, and closely following his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I believe that he is a qualified jurist who will base his decisions on his understanding of the law and is well-respected among his peers,” the Democrat said in a statement.
Donnelly added the Senate “should keep the current 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees.”
CNN said at least 36 of 48 Democrats are on record as planning to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination.
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