(NationalSentinel) Last week in a televised interview, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the battle to confirm President Donald J. Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee would not go “nuclear”–that is, force him to change Senate rules by dropping the filibuster and allowing Trump’s pick to be decided by a simple majority, instead of a 60-vote supermajority.
But on Friday, McConnell was less certain of that, refusing to say one way or another whether the option would be utilized in the same way Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did in 2013 to get President Obama’s judicial nominees approved.
“My answer’s going to be … [Democrats] have set the standard,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Politico.
Whatever McConnell decides to do–remember, Trump nominated his wife, Elaine Chao, to be his Transportation Secretary–none of Trump’s picks are going to earn enough votes to overcome certain Democratic opposition.
So, it’s either going to be the nuclear option, or nothing, as the New York Post‘s Jonathan Tobin notes:
The Democrats used the shift to pack the lower courts with Obama nominees. But, as Schumer now admits ruefully, that gives Republicans an edge now that they control Congress and the White House. It means that no matter how much Democrats rail against Trump’s Cabinet choices, every single one of them is likely to be confirmed.
However, Reid left one exception when he altered the rules: the Supreme Court. So while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might abhor trashing tradition, he might have no choice but to use his power to end the filibuster altogether.
Unless he can persuade eight Democrats to back Trump’s SCOTUS nominee while keeping all 52 Republicans in line, McConnell will have to go nuclear.
There is no comity between the two parties any longer in today’s hyper-partisan environment. And while the angry Left will blame that conservatives, the fact is that this partisanship grew mightily under former President Obama, who on more than a few occasions make clear his disdain for the GOP and his intention to work around the Republican-controlled Congress during his last years in office.
McConnell (and Trump) will have their hands full making some “arrangements” with ranking GOP members who, like their Democratic colleagues, are no fan of the populist president. The “Art of the Deal” will have to be employed in order to secure a generation’s worth of top jurists who are dedicated to the preservation of our constitutional system above everything else.
To ensure that, McConnell’s going to have to bend his precious Senate rules just like his predecessor. Go nuclear, Mitch; it’s the only way.