Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is doing so well in committee hearings that Senate Democrats are searching out a deal to protect the filibuster, to potentially use against a future nominee, in exchange for their votes to move to allow a vote on Gorsuch.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told LifeZette late Wednesday afternoon that no deal has been made, or was in the works, to his knowledge.

“Now that Neil Gorsuch is well on his way to confirmation, Democrats hope Republicans will fumble at the one yard line.”

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Senate Democrats are in a quandary. They want to filibuster Appellate Judge Neil Gorsuch to continue delivering “resistance” for their liberal base, but they don’t want to lose the filibuster option should President Donald Trump get the opportunity to nominate a second Supreme Court justice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that Gorsuch will be confirmed, suggesting that if Democrats try to use arcane Senate rules to filibuster, McConnell will use the “nuclear option.”

That means the Senate would abolish the ability to filibuster Supreme Court nominations. The rule has already been abolished for all other White House nominations that require a Senate vote.

It’s a tool that Democrats are apparently eager to keep active.

Democrats hope to sell their proposal to four moderate Senate Republicans, according to a federal official with knowledge of the scheme. In exchange for agreeing to allow a vote on Gorsuch, Democrats would want assurances from the moderate Republicans they would oppose use of the “nuclear option” for any future Trump nominations.

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The official indicated the ultimate objective would be to deny Trump the chance to nominate a judge to the bench viewed as a more rock-ribbed conservative constitutionalist than Gorsuch in the future.

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An agreement between two blocs of moderate Democrats and Republicans would be reminiscent of the 2005 deal between the “Gang of 14.” The deal was struck between seven Democrats and seven Republicans on judicial nominees.

In 2005, Senate Democrats, in the minority, didn’t want to lose the filibuster. Republicans wanted President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees to proceed.

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There are only three GOP members of the “Gang of 14” left: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.); Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); and Susan Collins (R-Maine). McCain told LifeZette he has not been approached with the bargain. Graham and Collins’ offices did not return requests for comment from LifeZette.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told LifeZette at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday any deal outside of leadership would be “inappropriate.”

Deals like the one in 2005 don’t always last. In 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) simply got rid of the filibuster for all presidential nominees and judicial candidates, expect for Supreme Court nominees.

This time, Republicans seem skeptical of any deal with the Senate minority. Democrats are constantly taking the level of warfare against GOP judicial nominees to new levels, and have since the 1980s, said one activist supporting Gorsuch. In 2006, Democrats tried to filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, a rare use of the tactic upon a Supreme Court nominee, and one which Republicans are still bitter about.

An aide to a top Senate Republican leader scoffed at the idea of a new deal, saying the Democrats were trying to bargain with a weak hand.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told LifeZette via email he had not heard of such a deal.

An influential Gorsuch supporter blasted the idea of a deal.

“Now that Neil Gorsuch is well on his way to confirmation, Democrats hope Republicans will fumble at the one yard line,” said Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network. “The silly proposal being floated by Democrats would merely prolong their ability to filibuster exceptionally qualified nominees, while giving Republicans nothing in return.”

Gorsuch is doing so well, there will likely be no successful filibuster by Senate Democrats, according to Grassley.

Grassley said the Senate Democrats will likely not allow more than 40 of its members to vote against cloture, which could trigger an explosive confrontation between Republicans and Democrats — setting new precedents the Democrats do not want.

“I think they’ll want to save it for the next [Supreme Court nomination],” said Grassley.

Gorsuch would be the crucial fifth vote on the Supreme Court for the conservative side, but he is replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Feb. 13, 2016. Conservatives have held five votes on the Supreme Court since the Reagan presidency.

Republicans have suggested the Democrats realize this fight is over. Gorsuch has received generally rave reviews as he has fended off Democratic attacks. The Democrats would probably like to retain the option to use the filibuster in the future, if one of the four liberal justices appointed by Democratic presidents dies or retires during Trump’s term.

If the filibuster cannot be broken, the Republicans still have the option to blow up the arcane rule for Supreme Court nominees, using their 52 votes in the 100-member body — unless enough GOP senators defect.

It’s an unpleasant fate for the Democrats, whose base desperately wants revenge for McConnell’s refusal to have hearings on Scalia’s replacement until after the 2016 election ended. But Democratic leadership will perhaps be forced to be practical.

A fight now over Gorsuch would send the wrong signal to the public, Grassley said.

“It isn’t the best thing for the country,” said Grassley.