President Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed the use of the “nuclear option” if needed to achieve Senate confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee.
Citing partisan gridlock in Washington, Trump said at a White House event that he would support the approval of Colorado federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch with 51 votes, instead of the 60 that have traditionally been required in the Senate to break a filibuster.
“If we end up with that gridlock I would say, ‘If you can, Mitch, go nuclear,’ ” Trump said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect. I would say it’s up to Mitch, but I would say, ‘Go for it.’ ”
Trump’s remarks come as Democrats have launched a pitched battle over Gorsuch’s confirmation, insisting that Senate Republicans abide by the rule of requiring 60 votes, as was the case with President Barack Obama’s nominees.
Trump, a real estate magnate who touted his private sector résumé during his campaign – promising to run government like an efficient business – has been eager to upend the norms of Congress, whose workings are often slower-moving and more deliberative than he prefers.
Announcing his Supreme Court pick Tuesday evening, Trump urged senators to quickly move Gorsuch through the nominating process and onto the high court. “I only hope that both Democrats and Republicans can come together for once for the good of the country,” he said.
Republicans are hoping to confirm the U.S. Court of Appeals judge by early April before a two-week Easter recess, which would clear the way for him to participate in the final cases of the court’s term ending in June.
Republicans, who hold 52 seats in the Senate, would need the assistance of eight Democrats in the chamber to move forward with the nomination if they maintain the 60-vote threshold.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · John Wagner, Ashley Parker