McCain: No last-minute deal to avoid 'nuclear' fight over Gorsuch
© Greg Nash

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (R-Ariz.) is pouring cold water on the chances of getting a deal to avoid going "nuclear" over President Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

"I've honestly tried my best. I've had numerous conversations. It's just, we have such a polarized environment here," McCain told reporters on Tuesday when asked about the chances of a deal.

The Senate's fight over Neil Gorsuch is expected to come to a head on Thursday, when he'll need 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle.

If, as expected, he falls short, Republicans are expected to change the rules to eliminate filibusters for Supreme Court nominees. Without the filibuster's 60-vote threshold, nominees could pass the upper chamber with a simple majority.

McCain, like other GOP senators, appeared resigned to the overhaul, arguing it is the only way to get Gorsuch confirmed.

But told by a reporter that some think the Senate will be a "better place" after they change the rules, McCain fired back: "Whoever said that is a stupid idiot."

"This is a severe body blow to the Senate as an institution," he added.

McCain told reporters late last week that he was having "conversations" with senators in both parties about trying to find a deal to avoid a nuclear fight.

A small group of Democratic senators, including Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPavlich: The claim Trump let the mentally ill get guns is a lie Toomey to introduce bill broadening background checks for firearms Scott Walker backs West Virginia attorney general in GOP Senate primary MORE (W.Va.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsAfter Florida school shooting, vows for change but no clear path forward Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Sunday shows preview: Russian charges, Florida shooting dominate coverage MORE (Del.), have publicly expressed an interest in avoiding the nuclear option.

McCain is one of three senators remaining from the 2005 "Gang of 14" that reached a deal to avert eliminating the filibuster.

McCain, however, argued on Tuesday that the "atmosphere" in the Senate had changed.

"We were trying to get eight [senators] and we didn't succeed," he said, noting there were 14 members of the upper chamber who agreed to a deal in 2005.