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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 CoonsBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Ocasio-Cortez: Republicans don't believe Democrats 'have the stones to play hardball' Democrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation 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 FeinsteinMurkowski predicts Barrett won't overturn Roe v. Wade Democrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination The Senate should evoke RBG in its confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett MORE (Calif.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySchumer says he had 'serious talk' with Feinstein, declines to comment on Judiciary role Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (Vt.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Intel leadership urges American vigilance amid foreign election interference Intel officials say Iran, Russia seeking to influence election Senate Intel leaders warn of election systems threats 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 HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty Senate Democrats want to avoid Kavanaugh 2.0 Harris faces pivotal moment with Supreme Court battle MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  Susan Collins and the American legacy MORE (W.Va.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Cotton mocks NY Times over claim of nonpartisanship, promises to submit op-eds as test Democrats sense momentum for expanding child tax credit 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 GrahamNew Lincoln Project ad goes after Lindsey Graham: 'A political parasite' The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day Biden's polling lead over Trump looks more comfortable than Clinton's 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 CornynBiden pushes into Trump territory Cruz: Hunter Biden attacks don't move 'a single voter' Bloomberg spending millions on Biden push in Texas, Ohio 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 ReidThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  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 KingBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Ocasio-Cortez: Republicans don't believe Democrats 'have the stones to play hardball' Democrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation MORE (I-Maine) and Democratic Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezTrump appointee sparks bipartisan furor for politicizing media agency Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump MORE (N.J.) have yet to announce their position on the nominee. Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinBipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning Pelosi hopeful COVID-19 relief talks resume 'soon' Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out MORE (D-Md.) previously left the door open to helping Trump's pick overcome the procedural hurdle. 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainObama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Mark Kelly releases Spanish ad featuring Rep. Gallego More than 300 military family members endorse Biden 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 CollinsThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - One week out, where the Trump, Biden race stands The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day House Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation 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 McConnellBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Trump blasts Obama speech for Biden as 'fake' after Obama hits Trump's tax payments White House hoping for COVID-19 relief deal 'within weeks': spokeswoman 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.