McCain: No last-minute deal to avoid 'nuclear' fight over Gorsuch
© Greg Nash

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain's family, McCain Institute to promote #ActsOfCivility in marking first anniversary of senator's death Arizona poll shows Kelly overtaking McSally 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE (R-Ariz.) is pouring cold water on the chances of getting a deal to avoid going "nuclear" over President Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

"I've honestly tried my best. I've had numerous conversations. It's just, we have such a polarized environment here," McCain told reporters on Tuesday when asked about the chances of a deal.

The Senate's fight over Neil Gorsuch is expected to come to a head on Thursday, when he'll need 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle.

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If, as expected, he falls short, Republicans are expected to change the rules to eliminate filibusters for Supreme Court nominees. Without the filibuster's 60-vote threshold, nominees could pass the upper chamber with a simple majority.

McCain, like other GOP senators, appeared resigned to the overhaul, arguing it is the only way to get Gorsuch confirmed.

But told by a reporter that some think the Senate will be a "better place" after they change the rules, McCain fired back: "Whoever said that is a stupid idiot."

"This is a severe body blow to the Senate as an institution," he added.

McCain told reporters late last week that he was having "conversations" with senators in both parties about trying to find a deal to avoid a nuclear fight.

A small group of Democratic senators, including Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSunday shows - Recession fears dominate Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Trump vows to 'always uphold the Second Amendment' amid ongoing talks on gun laws MORE (W.Va.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Biden faces scrutiny for his age from other Democrats Democrats press FBI for details on Kavanaugh investigation MORE (Del.), have publicly expressed an interest in avoiding the nuclear option.

McCain is one of three senators remaining from the 2005 "Gang of 14" that reached a deal to avert eliminating the filibuster.

McCain, however, argued on Tuesday that the "atmosphere" in the Senate had changed.

"We were trying to get eight [senators] and we didn't succeed," he said, noting there were 14 members of the upper chamber who agreed to a deal in 2005.