Nuclear option will be used if Dems block Gorsuch’s nomination

Senate Democrats risk the “nuclear option,” if they hold up the Gorsuch nomination.

Senate Democrats have clinched enough support to block Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, setting up a “nuclear” showdown over Senate rules later this week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 to approve the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court this afternoon.

The battle over confirming Gorsuch now heads to the Senate floor, where Democrats have the 41 votes needed to successfully filibuster his nomination – a move likely to provoke Senate Republicans into unilaterally eliminating the 60-vote threshold for filibustering high court nominees.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) announced on Monday that he will oppose President Trump’s pick, including on a procedural vote where he will need the support of eight Democrats to cross a 60-vote threshold. Coons is the 41st Democrat to back the filibuster.

Photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file

One way or another Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his GOP ranks have not backed down in the face of the filibuster threat, continuing to insist that Gorsuch will be installed as the next high court justice, whether Democrats like it or not.

“When Gorsuch refused to answer the most rudimentary questions in the hearings, after there were many doubts about him to begin with … there was a seismic change in my caucus,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And it’s highly, highly unlikely that he’ll get 60.”

For those who don’t know the Nuclear option. The nuclear or constitutional option is a parliamentary procedure that allows the U.S. Senate to override a rule or precedent by a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of by a supermajority of 60 votes.

Back to the 2013 the Senate already triggered the nuclear option in 2013 under Democratic control, when then-Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on a party-line vote, set a new precedent to eliminate the ability to filibuster executive branch nominations and instead subject every nominee to a simple, 51-vote threshold for confirmation. Advocates then argued it was necessary to break through entrenched partisan warfare over President Obama’s lower court and other executive branch nominations.

The 2013 precedent did not affect Supreme Court nominees because many Democrats who supported going nuclear at that time saw it as a bridge too far — the Supreme Court is a consequential, lifetime appointment that can span decades and shape the course of the entire nation.

In an interview with CNN in December former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), predicted, shortly before retiring from Congress, that the days of the legislative filibuster are numbered.




Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.