Senate starts debate on Gorsuch nomination
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The Senate voted Tuesday to formally start debate on Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination, paving the way for a showdown on President Trump's pick this week. 

Senators voted 55-44 to proceed to Gorsuch's nomination. Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySupreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Republicans fret over divisive candidates Everybody wants Joe Manchin MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDemocrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampJoe Manchin's secret Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests MORE (N.D.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals How Sen. Graham can help fix the labor shortage with commonsense immigration reform For true American prosperity, make the child tax credit permanent MORE (Colo.) sided with Republicans to formally start debate.
The vote paves the way for Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Trump takes two punches from GOP MORE (R-Ky.) to file cloture on Gorsuch's nomination later Tuesday, setting up a battle over Gorsuch and the Senate's rules on Thursday. 

Gorsuch is expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to overcome Thursday's procedural hurdle. 

Only Donnelly, Manchin and Heitkamp — who are up for reelection in states carried by Trump in November — as well as Bennet have said they will support Gorsuch on the initial vote. 

When Gorsuch falls short in the initial vote, Republicans are expected to change the rules to allow him and future Supreme Court nominees to clear the Senate with a simple majority.  

Top Democrats signaled Tuesday that Republicans, not their own conference, needs to back down and put forward another Supreme Court nominee.

"No one is making our Republican colleagues change the rules," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy MORE (D-N.Y.) said. "No one is forcing Senator McConnell to change the rules. He's doing it at his own volition." 

But Republicans appear resigned to the "nuclear option" to allow Gorsuch to get on the Supreme Court.

McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that he's confident he has the votes for the overhaul.