It will be entirely up to Democrats whether the nuclear option will be needed during the confirmation vote for Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune said of the upcoming decision.
A Democratic-led filibuster would be "unprecedented" in the Senate's "230-year history of confirming Supreme Court justices by an up and down simple majority vote," the South Dakota Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "This can be avoided, entirely avoided, if the Democrats would decide to just work with us."
Gorsuch has bipartisan support, Thune said, as four Democrats have publicly announced they will vote for him, and a solution could be reached "without the drama surrounding the discussion right now."
He does believe Democrats are "pretty bent" on moving ahead with the filibuster their base expects from them, which is "limiting our options in terms of getting this judge on the bench."
The vote had always been a simple majority until around 2003, when Democrats filibustered appellate court nominees, so from here forward, the votes will likely return to being a simple majority choice, said Thune.
The senator also discussed the chemical attack on Syrian civilians, saying that he does believe that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has to go.
"I believe there has to be a credible threat of the use of force in the circumstances in order to get people to the table, and finally I think there's got to be some meaningful, credible international engagement when it comes to humanitarian needs," Thune said.
"I hope we'll see some different view about how they intend to approach this issue, and how we can build international coalition support to provide some relief and rescue for the Syrian people. At a minimum, on a humanitarian level we've got to do that."
The United States has a vested interest in playing a meaningful role in the region, and hopefully to bring an end to such "atrocious acts of terror committed on Assad's own people," Thune said.
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