GOP senator open to ‘nuclear option’ if Dems filibuster Gorsuch

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Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) signaled Thursday he is open to using the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster entirely if Democrats try to use the maneuver to block the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

Eliminating the filibuster would break Senate precedent and make it impossible for Democrats to hold the nominee to a 60-vote threshold, allowing Republicans to approve Gorsuch with a simple majority.

Graham told conservative radio show host Mike Gallagher that he would vote for the nuclear option if necessary.

“Whatever it takes to get him on the court, I will do,” Graham said, after being asked about using the nuclear option.

“If my Democratic colleagues choose to filibuster this guy, then they will be telling me that they don’t accept the election results — 306 electoral votes — that they’re trying to delegitimize President Trump,” Graham continued. “And that’s not right, and we would have to change the rules to have the Supreme Court like everybody else.”

Graham said Gorsuch did an “incredible” job answering Democrats’ questions during his hearings this week

“My Democratic colleagues have tried every way they can to rattle this guy, and he’s done incredible. … If they filibuster this guy, it is because politics has taken over reason, and it would be a shame,” Graham added.

Graham said he hopes Republicans do not use the nuclear option to get Gorsuch’s confirmation votes. 

“I hope that we can get 60 votes and not change 200-plus years of history, but I will do whatever’s necessary, but I’ve been a pretty balanced guy and enough is enough,” Graham said.

There are currently 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two Independents, who caucus with the Democrats, in the Senate. To confirm Gorsuch without the nuclear option, eight Democrats would have to vote in Gorsuch’s favor if other Democrats attempted a filibuster. 

Gorsuch has had a mostly uneventful confirmation process, but many Democrats say the seat, which opened in February 2016 with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, should have been filled by then-President Barack Obama. Senate Republicans refused to hold a hearing or vote for Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

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