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

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Shontel Brown gaining ground against Nina Turner in Ohio: poll Biden hits trail for McAuliffe in test of his political brand 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 KaineSenate GOP likely to nix plan Schumer feels pressure from all sides on spending strategy Manchin signals he'll be team player on spending deal 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 ReidWarner backing 'small carve-out' on filibuster for voting rights Senate hopefuls embrace nuking filibuster Biden fails to break GOP 'fever' 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 CruzOvernight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia next week Here's evidence the Senate confirmation process is broken 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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi considers adding GOP voices to Jan. 6 panel Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa 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 SchumerChuck SchumerCould Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? Democratic negotiator: 'I believe we will' have infrastructure bill ready on Monday DACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats 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.