Lindsay Graham isn’t the most hardcore conservative in the Senate, so it says something that he’s talking about using the nuclear option if Democrats follow through on their threat to filibuster the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. From the Hill:
“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.”…
“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.
Roll Call published a story today noting that while Mitch McConnell hasn’t said he’s ready to push the button quite yet, he has already laid some of the groundwork:
“I haven’t seen a single Democrat, unless there’s one you’ve observed, indicate they were prepared to either vote for cloture or to vote for him,” the Kentucky Republican said.
“Leading you to ask the following question: If Judge Gorsuch can’t achieve 60 votes in the Senate, could any judge appointed by a Republican president be approved with 60 or more votes in the Senate?” McConnell said.
That suggestion — that a blockade of Gorsuch could mean an indefinite vacancy — could set up the GOP argument for changing the procedural rules to end debate.
Frankly, going nuclear now is the smartest thing the GOP could do since refusing to hold hearings on Merrick Garland last year. Sen. Schumer has already announced a filibuster of Judge Gorsuch, giving the GOP all the excuse it needs to push the button now.
Democrats have been floating a plan to make a deal with members of the GOP, i.e. enough Dems will vote for Gorsuch to confirm him and in exchange, the GOP will vow not to go nuclear for the next nominee. Here’s what that should tell us: Democrats are very worried about the next nominee. If that’s what Democrats are thinking about now, the GOP would be wise to think about it as well.
Instead of agreeing to a deal that will make things easier for Democrats next time around, the GOP should be thinking about how to make it harder. How could they do that? By going nuclear now, before Democrats realize they have overplayed a bad hand.
If Democrats decide next Monday to back off and allow Gorsuch on the court without the use of the nuclear option, that will set a precedent that the nuclear option really isn’t necessary to confirm a GOP nominee. That’s good for now but it’s a worst case scenario for the GOP in the future. You can bet your bottom dollar it will be necessary to go to extreme measures if Trump seeks to replace Justice Ginsburg (for instance) with a rock-ribbed conservative appointee. Nothing short of the nuclear option is going to get that done. So set the precedent now.
Republicans should go on television and make clear they didn’t want it to get to this point. They should intone solemnly how deeply they regret that this is necessary. They should nod mutely to show how disappointed they are that Democrat refused to acknowledge the outstanding qualifications of Judge Gorsuch. And then they should mash the nuclear button with a big, fat slap.
Set the precedent. Win the battle. Make it easier for the GOP to win the next one. Do it before Democrats sober up.