Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell certainly isn't one to be plagued by guilt. After all, he presided over the most baselessly obstructionist Senate in history, including the unprecedented and unprincipled total blockade of President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. So when he tells his conference to "feel no guilt" over getting rid of the filibuster to install the right-wing extremist Neil Gorsuch to the bench, he's speaking from personal experience.
Mitch McConnell told his leadership team in private this week what's becoming increasingly obvious on Capitol Hill: Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch probably won't get 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.
But the Senate majority leader had an equally pressing message: Republicans should have no compunction about pulling the trigger on the "nuclear option" — with Democrats resisting a high court nominee as well-pedigreed as Gorsuch.
"Feel no guilt," McConnell said, according to attendees.
McConnell's attempt to buck up his GOP ranks, relayed by three sources in attendance, underscores the high stakes of the Gorsuch battle as the Senate barrels toward a likely nuclear showdown next week: His confirmation is, to put it mildly, a can't-lose for Republicans.
That's the same McConnell who declared it was "a sad day in the history of the Senate," when Democrats under Harry Reid ended the filibuster on nominees for the lower courts and government agencies. McConnell called it a "power grab" and said Democrats were "picking a 'fake fight over judges' to try and 'distract the public' from the problems of ObamaCare."
“It only reinforces the narrative of party willing to do or say just about anything to get its way,” said McConnell. “One again, Democrats are threatening to break the rules of the Senate ... in order to change the rules of the Senate,” he said. […]
“I don’t think this is the time to be talking about reprisals. I think it’s a time to be sad about what’s been done to the United States Senate,” he said.
Help resist popular vote loser Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Click here to call your Democratic senator(s) and tell them to filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s nomination.
Of course, McConnell has been talking about reprisals against the Democrats since that event in November of 2013 and about the tremendous damage the Democrats did to the institution of the Senate with it. That was then. This is now. In 2017, McConnell is insisting "there has never been a 60-vote 'standard' when it comes to #SCOTUS nominees in the #Senate." Coming from the same guy who made up the "Biden rule" saying there could be a Supreme Court nominee in the final year of a presidency (as long as that president is a Democrat).
McConnell says the vote will be on April 7, and then he'll have to go nuclear. That is, if there are enough Democrats to hold a filibuster. Since five of the eleven Democrats from Trump states have already said they'll filibuster, chances are, they will. Then there's if McConnell can get 50 votes—with Vice President Pence as a tie-breaker—to overturn the Senate rules to do it. Chances are, he will.
But it does mean Republican senators have to decide whether they're going to go down this wormhole for a president with a 37 percent approval rating who is under investigation by the FBI for potential treason.