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 CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Senate Democrats skipping Pence's border trip GOP chairman introduces bill to force 'comprehensive review' of US-Saudi relationship 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.

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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 FeinsteinHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Epstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse Feinstein introduces bill to prohibit campaigns from using social media bots MORE (Calif.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyLawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US Epstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse MORE (Vt.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency at hearing Lawmakers introduce bill to block U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand 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 HeitkampTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments McConnell's Democratic challenger says she likely would have voted for Kavanaugh MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Kentucky Democrat says primary challenge to McGrath 'might be helpful' McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments MORE (W.Va.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Fundraising numbers highlight growing divide in 2020 race 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 GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet Why Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets 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 CornynTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal White House abruptly cancels Trump meeting with GOP leaders 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 ReidWebb: Questions for Robert Mueller Steyer's impeachment solution is dead wrong The Hill's Morning Report - House Democrats clash over next steps at border 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 Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Highlights from Defense pick's confirmation hearing | Esper spars with Warren over ethics | Sidesteps questions on Mattis vs. Trump | Trump says he won't sell F-35s to Turkey Five things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid MORE (I-Maine) and Democratic Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report Dem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors Senate passes .5B border bill, setting up fight with House MORE (N.J.) have yet to announce their position on the nominee. Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCan new US Strategy on Women, Peace & Security give women a real seat at the table? Ask Afghan women Maryland lawmakers slam 'despicable' Trump remark about journalists on newsroom shooting anniversary Democrats leery of Sanders plan to cancel student loan debt MORE (D-Md.) previously left the door open to helping Trump's pick overcome the procedural hurdle. 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Lindsey Graham: 'Graham wants to bring back 1950s McCarthyism' Meghan McCain knocks Lindsey Graham for defending Trump's tweets: 'This is not the person I used to know' 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 CollinsTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout 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.