Kaine: Dems will use ‘nuclear option’ if GOP blocks court nominee

Greg Nash

Hillary Clinton’s running mate is predicting Democrats will go “nuclear” if Republicans try to stonewall a potential Supreme Court nominee by Clinton. 

Tim Kaine on Friday said he believes Senate Democrats will change the chamber’s rules if they run into GOP obstruction in 2017. 

{mosads}”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 Reid (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 Cruz (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 Grassley (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 Schumer (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. 

Tags Charles Schumer Chuck Grassley Harry Reid Hillary Clinton Ted Cruz Tim Kaine
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