(CNN) – As President Donald Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court made the rounds on Capitol Hill, Senate democrats were struggling with this key question: How hard should they fight the selection of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the high court?
Trump warning that his party may try to cut out democrats altogether if they filibuster his nominee, urging senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to invoke the so-called nuclear option to allow just 51 republicans to confirm Gorsuch rather than the 60 votes required now, “I would say if you can, Mitch, go nuclear because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web. I would say it’s up to Mitch, but I would say go for it.”
Democrats are firing back, “That’s enormously unhelpful. That’s a threat,” but Feinstein declined to say if she’d back a filibuster.
Liberal democrats are still fuming at senate republicans for refusing to even have a hearing for former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and they believe Gorsuch is too conservative for the job.
“I am personally going to fight as hard as I can in order to block this confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Sen. Ed Markey.
Yet other democrats say that since Trump is not affecting the ideological balance of the court, they should save their firepower and the filibuster, for the next fight when Trump may replace a more liberal justice.
Sen. Joe Manchin bluntly issuing this warning to his party, “If we’re ever going to be back into the majority, you’re going to have to learn to work the moderates. If not, they’re going to be in the super minority.”
The white house is hoping to win over Manchin and nine other democrats who are up for reelection in states trump won, including Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is non-committal about Gorsuch but says the nominee must win 60 votes, “I want to listen and learn but no way should we give up the 60 vote margin which is the filibuster.”
The battle comes as tensions turn to rage over Trump’s cabinet with republicans taking an unprecedented step to change the rules in advance two of Trump’s nominees after democrats boycotted a committee vote on tom price’s nomination to head health and human services and Steven Mnuchin to run the treasury department.
Meanwhile Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is a step closer to becoming attorney general, but only after a divisive fight in committee produced a party-line vote in favor of his nomination.