Dems reach magic number to block Supreme Court nominee

Senate Democrats have clinched enough support to block Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court, setting up a "nuclear" showdown over Senate rules later this week. 

Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsKhashoggi fiancée: Not punishing Saudi crown prince would be 'stain on our humanity' GOP says Ron Klain pulling Biden strings Pompeo: Release of Khashoggi report by Biden admin 'reckless' MORE (D-Del.) announced on Monday that he will oppose President Trump's pick on a procedural vote where he will need the support of eight Democrats to cross a 60-vote threshold to end debate on Gorsuch. Coons is the 41st Democrat to back the filibuster.

“Throughout this process, I have kept an open mind. … I have decided that I will not support Judge Grouch's nomination in the Judiciary Committee meeting today," Coons said. 

"I am not ready to end debate on this issue. So I will be voting against cloture," Coons said, absent a deal to avoid the nuclear option.


Unless one of the 41 Democrats changes their vote, the filibuster of Gorsuch will be sustained in a vote later this week.

Gorsuch's path to overcoming a filibuster closed on Monday after Democratic Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinPro-Choice Caucus asks Biden to remove abortion fund restrictions from 2022 budget China has already infiltrated America's institutions Progressive support builds for expanding lower courts MORE (Calif.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyFirst Black secretary of Senate sworn in Press: The big loser: The Republican Party Senate acquits Trump in 57-43 vote MORE (Vt.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Democrats offer fresh support for embattled Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump teases on 2024 run Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate MORE (Va.) each announced they would oppose Gorsuch's nomination.

Only four Democratic senators have said they will support President Trump's pick on the initial vote to end debate: Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampCentrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment Biden to tap Vilsack for Agriculture secretary: reports MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEverybody wants Joe Manchin Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMurkowski never told White House she would oppose Tanden On The Money: Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief | Relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority | Senate confirms Biden's picks for Commerce, top WH economist Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief MORE (W.Va.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats push Biden to include recurring payments in recovery package Democrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Democrats plan crackdown on rising drug costs MORE (Colo.). 

Heitkamp, Donnelly and Manchin are each up for reelection in states carried by Trump in the 2016 election. Bennet — who won reelection last year — has been under a microscope because of Gorsuch's ties to Colorado and didn't specify that he would vote for the nominee during a final vote.

Democrats have been under a mountain of pressure from liberal outside groups to block Gorsuch's nomination. Progressives argue that voting for his nomination — even on a procedural vote — helps enable Trump and is out of line with what the base of the party wants.

With Democrats now able to block Gorsuch's nomination, Republicans are expected to change the rules to circumvent the filibuster. 

Though GOP leadership hasn't specifically said it will use the "nuclear option,"  GOP senators appear resigned to lowering the vote threshold for Supreme Court nominations. 

"If we have to, we will change the rules, and it looks like we're going to have to," Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief FBI director faces lawmaker frustration over Capitol breach Juan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP MORE (R-S.C.) said during the Senate Judiciary Committee's meeting on Gorsuch's nomination. "I hate that. I really, really do." 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynBottom line This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican and a member of the committee, added that Gorsuch will be confirmed by the end of the week. 

“If they're going to oppose Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States, they will never vote and never support a nominee of this President," he said. 

With the Judiciary Committee expected to clear Gorsuch's nomination on Monday, a full Senate vote is expected by the end of the week.

Republicans are quick to note that Democrats, then led by Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWho is the Senate parliamentarian and why is she important? Trumpists' assaults on Republicans who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid will help Democrats The Jan. 6 case for ending the Senate filibuster MORE (D-Nev.), used the nuclear option in 2013 to lower the confirmation threshold for lower court judges and executive nominees. 

Graham compared Democratic complaints to an "arsonist complaining about the fire."

Only a few Democrats remain undecided on Gorsuch's nomination. Even if they agreed to support Gorsuch, Republicans would not have enough support to break a filibuster.  

Sen. Angus KingAngus KingOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Senate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Biden CIA pick pledges to confront China if confirmed, speak 'truth to power' MORE (I-Maine) and Democratic Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden holds off punishing Saudi crown prince, despite US intel Senate confirms Thomas-Greenfield as UN ambassador The Memo: Biden bets big on immigration MORE (N.J.) have yet to announce their position on the nominee. Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Biden tells Senate Democrats to stick together, quickly pass coronavirus relief Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses MORE (D-Md.) previously left the door open to helping Trump's pick overcome the procedural hurdle. 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainHouse Freedom Caucus chair weighs Arizona Senate bid Cindy McCain planning 'intimate memoir' of life with John McCain Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors MORE (R-Ariz.), a close ally of Graham's, told reporters late last week that he was having "conversations" about trying to find a deal to avoid changing the rules. 

McCain, Graham and GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOn The Money: Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief | Relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority | Senate confirms Biden's picks for Commerce, top WH economist Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Senate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill MORE (Maine) are the three senators left from the 2005 "Gang of 14" who struck a deal to avoid nuking the filibuster. 

Yet McCain lowered expectations that the talks would result in a similar deal. 

"I'm having just a few conversations that I've been having for a long time with my friends on the Democratic side,” he said. “I'm not having negotiations, and there is no gang."

Liberal outside groups quickly praised Democrats for opposing Gorsuch and argued that Republicans would be to blame if they change the rules to confirm him. 

"Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump Gun violence prevention groups optimistic background check legislation can pass this Congress MORE is openly threatening to blow up the Senate to move the nominee of a president under an active FBI investigation for ties to the Russian government. Let's be clear: if the Republicans choose to blow up the Senate, it is their choice alone," said Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. 

Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, added that Trump should withdraw Gorsuch's nomination and put forward a "consensus nominee." 

“If Republicans go nuclear to confirm Gorsuch, that will be their fault and they will bear responsibility," she said. "Democrats are absolutely right to stand on principle."

— This story was updated at 1:53 p.m.