President Trump said he would be in favor of deploying the so-called “nuclear option” if his Supreme Court nominee gets blocked in the Senate, meaning that he would back a change in rules to allow a simple majority vote to push through his chosen justice.
Questioned by Fox News’ Sean Hannity on whether he would support Senate Republicans abolishing the filibuster if the upper chamber doesn’t reach the 60 vote supermajority requirement to confirm the Supreme Court pick, Mr. Trump responded in the affirmative.
“Would you want [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell to use the nuclear option?” Hannity asked.
“Yes, I would,” Mr. Trump responded, citing “obstructionists” in the Senate and their delay of confirming his attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama. And of the slowed confirmation of CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who the president called a “very, very great choice,” Mr. Trump questioned, “Why are they doing that?” Pompeo was confirmed Monday.
Republican leaders in the Senate have not publicly backed using the nuclear option to confirm a Supreme Court nominee, which currently requires at least eight Democratic votes.
In the past, GOP lawmakers have been cautious about eliminating the filibuster, in part out of fear that it could set a dangerous precedent if the rival party takes back the upper chamber. In 2013, when Harry Reid was the Senate majority leader, Democrats got rid of the 60-vote threshold to confirm lower court nominees.
Still, GOP lawmakers have promised that Mr. Trump’s nominee will get through the Senate.
“I believe we’ll be able to confirm the president’s entire Cabinet,” McConnell promised in an interview Sunday on Fox News. “There’s great enthusiasm.”
The president will announce his Supreme Court pick on Thursday, but he told Fox News’ Hannity that he has already settled on a choice.
“I have made my decision pretty much in my mind, yes,” Mr. Trump said but cautioned “everything’s subject to change at the last moment.”