Trump to McConnell: Go nuclear if necessary

President Trump on Wednesday urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun 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 Blumenthal (Conn.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsThis week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Lift the Jones Act and similar restrictions for humanitarian crises Overnight Tech: White House unveils tech education initiative | Bannon reportedly sought to spy on Facebook | Uber CEO to appeal London ban | John Oliver rips AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (Del.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampWells Fargo chief defends bank's progress in tense Senate hearing Dems plan to make gun control an issue in Nevada Red-state Dems need more from Trump before tax embrace MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: EPA aims to work more closely with industry Overnight Finance: Lawmakers grill Equifax chief over hack | Wells Fargo CEO defends bank's progress | Trump jokes Puerto Rico threw budget 'out of whack' | Mortgage tax fight tests industry clout Lawmakers try again on miners’ pension bill MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillKoch-backed group targets red-state Dems on tax reform Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open Las Vegas highlights Islamist terrorism is not America's greatest domestic threat MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot Senators grill ex-Equifax CEO over stock sales MORE (Mont.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGun proposal picks up GOP support Durbin: I had 'nothing to do' with Curbelo snub Republicans jockey for position on immigration MORE (Ill.) — have said they oppose filibustering Trump’s Supreme Court pick.

- Updated at 12:22 p.m.