I think that every pundit on television is fixated on the Nuclear Option for the confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Even President Trump himself openly encouraged Senator McConnell to use it if he had to.
One statement that I keep hearing is that under the current Senate rules it will take 60 votes. That is somewhat misleading. When the Senate opens debate on the confirmation, it takes 60 votes to end the debate. If one Senator wanted to filibuster, the debate would continue until 60 Senators voted to end the debate and proceed with the vote.
The vote to confirm requires only a simple majority and the Republicans have the votes. The Republicans never filibustered the confirmation of nominees when the Democrats were in power.
When it comes down to it, Democrat Senators will have to decide if they want to be obstructionists. There are several that are coming up for election in states where Trump won by double digit margins.
Democrats also will weigh the costs of dying on this hill. If they force the hand of the Republicans, Senator McConnell will push the button and exercise the nuclear option. When that happens, it is all over for any opposition to the next Supreme Court justice.
In the next election, Democrats have more than a few seats that are in danger. Republicans are in a strong position to maintain and even increase their majority. Over the next two to three years, there could be one or two more justices to appoint.
Given these realities, the Democrats will probably howl and moan and drag out the confirmation process as long as possible. They know that they are on the end of a losing battle.
Because of the strong leadership of President Trump, Republicans in the Senate are actually acting like the majority party. Mitch McConnell has his finger on the button. He doesn’t want to push it. The Democrats know that he will if necessary.
I think that when it counts, Democrats will end any attempts at a sustained filibuster. Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed without the nuclear option. If the Democrats are foolish enough to try to block it, they will lose and, as Senator Cruz said, “Gorsuch will be confirmed one way or the other.”
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