Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed Tuesday that "we'll confirm him" — Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — on Friday, as the Kentucky Republican hinted strongly that he was moving toward the "nuclear option" that would approve the appellate court judge by a simple majority vote.
"But this has very severe long-term consequences for this body, because we've just abandoned one of the pillars of it," McConnell told reporters of the tactic at the Capitol. "It's going to be very harmful.
"Someday, the Democrats are going to be in the majority — and we will lose the unique aspect of the way we should be doing business."
Gorsuch was confirmed Monday on an 11-9 vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee after hours of debate.
Under current Senate rules, Gorsuch would need 60 votes to be confirmed to the high court. While Republicans hold the majority in the upper chamber — 52 to 48 — they would still need six Democratic votes.
Three Democrats have broken ranks to say that they will vote for Gorsuch: Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
In addition, a fourth Democrat, Sen. Michael Bennet from Gorsuch's home state of Colorado, has said he will not join in the filibuster against Gorsuch but has not said how he would vote in the end.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York is leading a filibuster against the nomination.
"What the majority leader did to Merrick Garland by denying him even a hearing is even worse than a filibuster," Schumer said Tuesday. "For him to accuse Democrats of the first partisan filibuster belies the facts, belies the history, belies the basic truth."
McConnell denied Garland a hearing after former President Barack Obama nominated him to succeed Associate Justice Antonin Scalia last year.
Democrats remain incensed by McConnell's decision.
Several Republicans, including Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, have called for the nuclear option in the Gorsuch fight.
"Our Democratic colleagues trotted out the same old, tired arguments we've heard time and time again about Judge Gorsuch," Cornyn said on the Senate floor. "In the end though, none of those arguments hold water and, of course, many of them aren't even about him.
"Instead, these arguments reveal how our colleagues across the aisle are grasping for reasons to justify an unprecedented partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court justice."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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