Trump to McConnell: Go nuclear if necessary

President Trump on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellCongress nears deal on help for miners Shutdown fears spur horse-trading GOP, Trump administration huddle on tax reform MORE (R-Ky.) to abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees if Democrats block his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch.

“If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with judicial advocates in the Roosevelt Room.

"Because that would would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was put up to that neglect," he said of Gorsuch, a federal circuit court judge. "So I would say, it's up to Mitch, but I would say go for it."

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After Trump announced his nomination Tuesday night, Democrats quickly rallied in opposition to Gorsuch, with some suggesting they would force a 60-vote threshold to clear his nomination.

The war of words between Trump and Democrats sets the stage for a bitter battle in the Senate over Gorsuch’s nomination.

Democrats are under heavy pressure from liberal activists to do everything they can to block Gorsuch after Republicans last year refused to consider Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s nominee to fill the seat made vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

But McConnell, a well-known institutionalist, has been noncommittal about whether he would invoke the so-called “nuclear option” to force Gorsuch through the upper chamber.

The procedural move would allow his nomination to move forward with a 51-vote majority, rather than the 60 needed if Gorsuch is filibustered.

Such a move would break with decades of precedent and send shockwaves through the Senate, which was designed by the nation’s founders to be a “cooling saucer” that slows down government action.

Some Republicans worry the move could be used against them in future nomination battles if Democrats regain control of the White House and the Senate.

McConnell on Tuesday night predicted the Senate would confirm Gorsuch.

“Let me just tell you, we’re going to get this judge confirmed,” he said on Fox News.

Democrats tried and failed to filibuster President George W. Bush’s Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito in 2006.

This time around, Republicans would need eight Democrats to vote with them to break the 60-vote threshold.

Seven Democrats in the Senate — Sens. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalSenate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general Hoyer not insisting on ObamaCare subsidies in spending bill Airlines promise friendlier skies MORE (Conn.), Chris CoonsChris CoonsA Vandenberg movement in Congress Senate approves Trump's Agriculture chief How Gorsuch's confirmation shapes the next Supreme Court battle MORE (Del.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampBusiness groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Sanders supporter to run against red-state Democrat GOP lays out regulatory reform wish list MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinCongress nears deal on help for miners Senate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general Congress nears deal on help for miners MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillFive takeaways from the Georgia special election Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Potential McCaskill challenger has .7M: report MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJon TesterDems hunt for a win in Montana special election Tester raises M for reelection The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Mont.) and Dick DurbinDick DurbinOvernight Energy: Lawmakers work toward deal on miners’ benefits Senate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general Overnight Finance: Dems want ObamaCare subsidies for extra military spending | Trade battle: Woe, Canada? | Congress nears deal to help miners | WH preps to release tax plan MORE (Ill.) — have said they oppose filibustering Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

- Updated at 12:22 p.m.