Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) warned on Thursday Democrats seeking to obstruct Republicans’ legislative efforts, suggesting the “nuclear option” used by Republicans on Friday to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court could potentially be expanded and used to push through legislation in the future.
On Thursday, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to change Senate rules so that only a simple majority would be needed to end debate related to confirming a Supreme Court justice on the Senate floor, a procedural rule change commonly called the nuclear option. Under previous rules, which had been in place for decades, at least 60 votes were required to end debate.
Senate Democrats effectively made it impossible for Republicans to confirm Gorsuch earlier in the week, when all but four Democrats voted to keep debate going. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said Democrats would not allow for Gorsuch to be confirmed now or in the future under the previous Senate rules.
Following the rule change, Cruz was asked whether the nuclear option could be extended in the future to include legislative efforts, making it substantially easier for Republicans to pass bills in the Senate. Cruz’s response indicated that although there isn’t enough support for such an alteration at the moment, that could change in the future if Democrats continue to obstruct Republicans’ reform efforts.
“At this point, there is not a majority for ending the legislative filibuster,” Cruz said, according to the Washington Examiner. “My hope is that Democrats will stop their unreasonable across-the-board obstruction and allow the Senate to operate.”
“If they continue an unmovable blockade, I suspect the votes will shift on that question as well. … Let’s wait and see how the facts develop,” Cruz said.
Schumer issued a warning of his own on Thursday.
“When history weighs what happened, the responsibility for changing the rules will fall on the Republicans’ and Leader McConnell’s shoulders,” said Schumer, according to a report by the New York Times.
“They have had other choices,” Schumer added. “They have chosen this one.”