>> It's known as the nuclear option in Congress, and President Donald Trump is urging Senate Republicans to go ahead and use it if Democrats try to block his Supreme Court nominee. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch is making the rounds on Capital Hill, meeting with the senators who will decide whether he gets a lifetime seat on the nation's highest court.
The Colorado appeals court judge seems to have overwhelming support from Republicans, but he's gonna need Democratic support too. And if they try to stop him, Trump is saying his Republicans should blow up the longstanding rules that require at least 60 votes in the 100 seat chamber to put a Supreme Court nominee on the bench.
>> We're all thrilled and looking->> Under the nuclear option, Republicans could push Gorsuch through with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of the 60 votes. Since Republicans have 52 seats in the Senate, that would essentially guarantee that Gorsuch gets his place on the high court. So why would Republicans hesitate to push the button?
Because lawmakers in both parties see it as the point of no return that would fundamentally change the dynamics of the world's greatest deliberative body, as they call it, in a way that neither party wants. It would mean that the party in power, right now the GOP, holds all the cards and the minority party sits on the sidelines.
The Senate is already chipping away at the super majority requirement in other areas. Republicans are pushing through Trump's cabinet picks on a simple majority vote after Democrats did away with that requirement when they were in charge in 2013. But the stakes are higher with the Supreme Court nominee.
Labor secretaries come and go, but the 49-year-old Gorsuch could be writing opinions on the Supreme Court for decades to come. He's seen as a conservative in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia, who died last February, leaving the court evenly split between liberals and conservatives. He's served on a Denver-based appeals court since 2006.
Before that, he clerked for two Supreme Court justices, including current Justice Anthony Kennedy. Democrats see plenty of things they don't like in his record, not least his ruling in favor of the Hobby Lobby chain when it challenged the requirement under Obamacare that it had to pay for contraception for its employees.
>> 60 votes produces a mainstream candidate.>> Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, telling reporters that his party will require Republicans to round up at least 60 votes to get Gorsuch through. That means they need at least eight Senate Democrats to go along. They might get there, but if they don't it could prompt them to reach for that nuclear button.