Kaine: Dems will use 'nuclear option' if GOP blocks court nominee
© Greg Nash

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up McCabe's shocking claims prove the bloodless coup rolls on MORE's running mate is predicting Democrats will go "nuclear" if Republicans try to stonewall a potential Supreme Court nominee by Clinton. 

Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Kaine asks Shanahan if military families would be hurt by moving .6B for border wall Clinton on GOP promoting Trump 'stronger together' quote: Now copy my policies too MORE on Friday said he believes Senate Democrats will change the chamber's rules if they run into GOP obstruction in 2017. 

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"If these guys think guys think they are going to stonewall the filling of that vacancy, or other vacancies, then a Democratic Senate majority will say we're not going to let you thwart the law," he told The Huffington Post. 

The historic move would let Supreme Court nominees bypass a current 60-vote procedural requirement and be approved by a simple majority.

Pressed as to he is saying Democrats will carry out a threat from outgoing Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidConstitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Klobuchar: 'I don't remember' conversation with Reid over alleged staff mistreatment Dems wary of killing off filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) to use the procedural "nuclear option," Kaine added, "I am predicting that if the Republicans continue to stonewall, then I think that will happen." 

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzEl Chapo's lawyer fires back at Cruz: 'Ludicrous' to suggest drug lord will pay for wall Democrats have a chance of beating Trump with Julian Castro on the 2020 ticket Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again MORE (R-Texas), asked this week if Republicans should consider a Clinton nominee, appeared to suggest letting the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia's death go unfilled for years.  

The move earned the Texas Republican a wave of backlash from Democrats and broke with comments from some of his GOP colleagues — including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech MORE (R-Iowa) — who argue a Clinton nominee would not be automatically blocked.

Reid earlier this month said he has paved the way for Democrats to change the rules. 

But any push to change the Senate rules would by led by Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (N.Y.), who is expected to replace Reid as the leader of Senate Democrats and could become majority leader if his party wins control of the chamber on Election Day.

Asked about the nuclear option earlier this month, Schumer demurred, telling CNBC's John Harwood, "I hope we won't get to that. And I'll leave it at that."  

In 2013, Senate Democrats changed the filibuster rules on most of Obama's nominees, allowing their approval by simple majority, but left the 60-vote hurdle intact for Supreme Court nominations. 

Republicans have refused to give Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing or a vote for months. They argue that the vacancy left by Scalia's death should be filled by the next president.  

A small but growing number of Republicans have opened the door to considering Garland in the post-election lame-duck session, though GOP leadership remains firmly opposed.

Kaine, however, said Friday that there's a "significant likelihood" that Garland will get confirmed this year.