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 CoonsThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden's public moment of frustration Russia announces military exercises amid standoff with US, NATO over Ukraine Democrats say change to filibuster just a matter of time 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 FeinsteinOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Eight senators ask Biden to reverse course on Trump-era solar tariffs MORE (Calif.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyFiscal spending deadline nears while lawmakers face pressure to strike deal These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products MORE (Vt.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Russia attack 'would change the world' SALT change likely to be cut from bill, say Senate Democrats New Mexico Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case 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 HeitkampDemocratic ex-senators join pro-gas organization 11 former Democratic senators call for 'meaningful reform to Senate rules' Harry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate majority leader, dies MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyFormer Sen. Donnelly confirmed as Vatican ambassador Biden to have audience with pope, attend G20 summit Biden taps former Indiana Sen. Donnelly as ambassador to Vatican MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money — No SALT, and maybe no deal The names to know as Biden mulls Breyer's replacement Poll: Sinema approval higher among Arizona Republicans than Democrats MORE (W.Va.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSenate Democrats urge Biden to get beefed-up child tax credit into spending deal These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Overnight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill 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 GrahamClyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes The names to know as Biden mulls Breyer's replacement Schumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' 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 CornynSenate Republicans press federal authorities for information on Texas synagogue hostage-taker Senators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Momentum builds for new COVID-19 relief for businesses 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 ReidSchumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' Democrats say change to filibuster just a matter of time The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters 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 KingThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden's public moment of frustration Democrats say change to filibuster just a matter of time Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE (I-Maine) and Democratic Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezMenendez goes after Sanders over SALT comments Senators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Schumer requests Senate briefing on Ukraine amid Russia tensions MORE (N.J.) have yet to announce their position on the nominee. Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSALT change likely to be cut from bill, say Senate Democrats Senators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate On The Money — Support for new COVID-19 relief grows MORE (D-Md.) previously left the door open to helping Trump's pick overcome the procedural hurdle. 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPoll: Sinema approval higher among Arizona Republicans than Democrats Meghan McCain: COVID-19 battle made me doubt if nation will recover from pandemic Biden's year two won't be about bipartisanship  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 CollinsClyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes The names to know as Biden mulls Breyer's replacement No. 3 Senate Democrat says Biden should tap Black woman for Supreme Court 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 McConnellSchumer vows to vote on Biden Supreme Court pick with 'all deliberate speed' It's time for 'Uncle Joe' to take off the gloves against Manchin and Sinema Democrats should ignore Senators Manchin and Sinema 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.