President Trump said today that he would encourage Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to push his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, through the confirmation process by using the nuclear option.
“If we end up with a gridlock, I will say it if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,” Trump said at the White House.
“That would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web,” Trump said of Gorsuch. “I would say it’s up to Mitch, but I would say go for it.”
The president also said he wants Gorsuch to be confirmed through an “elegant” and “dignified” process.
The nuclear option is a procedural move to overwrite a Senate rule with 51 votes, essentially eliminating any efforts of the minority party to filibuster. For now, Supreme Court nominees are still subject to the 60-vote threshold, but that could change if McConnell follow Trump’s advice.
In 2013, when Congress was under Democratic control, the Senate voted to change the process of confirming presidential nominees from 60 votes to 51 votes.
McConnell, who was then the Senate Minority Leader, expressed frustration after the vote, calling it “a sad day in the history of the Senate.”
“This was nothing more than a power grab in order to advance the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda,” McConnell said at a news conference on Nov. 21, 2013. “They just broke the Senate rules in order to exercise the power grab.”
Recently, when asked if he would consider getting rid of the filibuster should Democrats block Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation, McConnell said, “It’s way too early for me to tell or anybody else what we might do.”
“I think how this is handled depends on our Democratic friends,” McConnell said last Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.”
ABC News’ Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.