Republicans may need 'nuclear option' to confirm Gorsuch

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KGO) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 along party lines to advance Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination to the rest of the senate. And so the showdown begins between Republicans and Democrats.

RELATED: Democrats have the votes to try to block Gorsuch

The White House wants this nomination confirmed by Friday, before the Senate goes on a two week recess. The Republicans say they will deploy a rule used in the past by Democrats called the "nuclear option."

If Gorsuch is confirmed, conservatives would have a majority say in the Supreme Court. "If confirmed, a nominee's decisions will affect the lives of all Americans for generations," California Senator Dianne Feinstein said.

With that said, Feinstein voted against moving the nominee forward. The Democrats lost though, as Republicans outnumber them on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

RELATED: SCOTUS nominee Gorsuch testifies to Congress

Now the nomination goes to the full Senate.

Democrats have secured the 41 votes they need to sustain a filibuster and prevent his advancement. Current rules say the Republicans need 60 votes to break that filibuster.

Right now, the Republicans don't have the votes unless they change Senate rules and go with what is being called the "nuclear option."

"They can vote to change the rules. They only need 50 to change the rules, well 51 -- 50 plus the vice president," UC Hastings professor of law Rory Little said.

This would lower the threshold of advancing Supreme Court nominees. Both parties fear the implications of the nuclear option.

"If we have to, we will change the rules and it looks like we're going to have to. I hate that," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said.

Some Republican senators, like Ted Cruz, reminded everyone that the nuclear option was first used by the Democrats when some of President Obama's judicial nominees were initially blocked by Republicans.

"Which explains the conduct here is simple. It is politics," Cruz said.

"What we don't like about that is we think wow, the Supreme Court is too important to have just a bare majority support a nominee. We ought to allow it to be a higher number and that is being taken away," Little said.

This tactic means Republicans will also have an easier time getting the next Supreme Court nominee confirmed.

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