Senator John McCain is a lonely voice of dissent among his Republican colleagues as they move shortly to break Senate tradition and confirm Neil Gorsuch to the high court.
The wise McCain grasps the dangers inherent in such a decision. If Senate Republicans do press the nuclear option button, they need to remember that radiation spreads to unforeseen places.
No matter how much Senate Republicans feel justified in overriding the filibuster to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, it would be a grievous and unprecedented mistake to do so – and one that will undermine President Trump's legislative agenda.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been promising President Trump's nominee will be confirmed this week. However, a Democratic minority will likely block the chamber from breaking cloture and ending debate.
When that happens, Republicans will trigger the "nuclear option" – breaking rules that require a two-thirds vote to change chamber rules. This, in turn, will allow a simple majority to confirm Judge Gorsuch.
A confirmation under these circumstance will be a pyrrhic victory as it further ices a deeply polarized Washington. The move could kill any chance for bipartisan support on the President's tax reform and infrastructure legislation.
Republicans are certainly justified in considering the nuclear option. In 2013, Democrats under Majority Leader Harry Reid, facing Republican Senate intransigence on President's Obama's nominees for the executive branch and the judiciary, triggered the nuclear option. The move confirmed most presidential nominees for the executive branch and judiciary with some exceptions, including the Supreme Court.
Today, it would be difficult to find a leading Democrat who thinks the 2013 nuclear decision was a wise decision, however justified this decision may have seemed.
Sen. Chuck Schumer has said as much, noting recently that he argued unsuccessfully against the Democrat's decision.
Nobody can turn back the clock. But Republicans would be wise not to make the same mistake. Instead, both sides should take steps to build a bipartisan consensus for future legislation the country desperately needs.
After the House's failure to pass a comprehensive healthcare bill, President Trump said he would be "totally open" to Democratic support for a future bill. "And I think that's going to happen," he added.
With the healthcare bill, the Freedom Caucus, a small group of House Republicans, believed they alone could dictate final terms. The President is a savvy negotiator. He understands that minor players shouldn't have such power. The Freedom Caucus will not and should not hold his agenda hostage again.
The president has ambitious plans with tax reform, infrastructure and a vision to rebuild America's military might. He intuitively knows Democratic support is positive and crucial.
Time and again throughout his career I have seen Donald Trump bring parties and people together, even if they were diametrically opposed to each other.
Clearly, President Trump inherited a broken political system. Republicans point to President Obama's decision to keep them out of the drafting of the 2009 stimulus and 2010 Obamacare bills. Democrats blame the GOP's tea party faction for the logjam.
Pres. Trump has a remarkable opportunity to end the finger pointing by using the Gorsuch vote to seize the political center and become the master of Congress.
Yes, Congressional Republicans are angry and have little interest in compromise. Acting as an honest broker, Trump can create a new middle ground while growing his own popularity.
A Harvard-Harris poll conducted earlier this year found that 68 percent of voters believe President Trump should seek compromise with Congressional Democrats for the betterment of the country.
One compromise path is to get Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to sign off on Gorsuch. In exchange, Pres. Trump will get Senate Republicans to promise the filibuster will stand with future high court nominees.
Another possibility: if Ruth Bader Ginsburg retires, as many expect, Trump could nominate Judge Merrick Garland, Obama's Supreme Court nominee. Garland has a record as a judicial moderate.
The president has publicly supported the nuclear option. If he intervened and succeeded in getting Republicans tokeep the filibuster, he will have the bona fides to get his reform legislation through Congress with bipartisan support.
This could have been a pivotal moment where the President might have turned the page on the deep contention that has wracked his first 100 days.
If Gorsuch becomes a Justice on the Court through a simple majority, Washington will be pushed into even further gridlock. And the judiciary will become further politicized as the bar of 60 votes is lowered for high court nominees.
President Trump has the unique ability to forge a new and different path. That's why he came to Washington in the first place.
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