Senate Democrats look to have enough votes to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court, forcing Republicans to consider whether to change Senate rules to confirm President Donald Trump's choice.
On Monday, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware became the 41st Democrat to announce he would support the filibuster, according to counts by NBC News and other outlets. It would mean Republicans cannot reach the 60 votes needed to avoid the tactic if no senators change their minds. If the count holds, the GOP must decide if it will change Senate rules, or trigger the so-called nuclear option, to make it so that its members can limit debate with only a simple majority vote.
Republicans hold 52 seats in the 100-member chamber and three Democrats have said they will support Gorsuch, so the Colorado appeals judge will likely clear a majority-vote threshold. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested he will change Senate rules if needed, a move Trump has backed.
"Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed this week. How that happens will really depend on what will happen with our Democratic friends," McConnell told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Gorsuch's nomination on Monday in an 11-9 party line vote. McConnell said he expects Gorsuch to get confirmed on Friday.
Speaking to reporters after the Judiciary Committee vote, Republican senators including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas said they would support the rules change if Democrats filibuster.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer stressed Monday that the president still backs the ryles change but said the decision of whether to seek it is up to McConnell. He called the potential decision to filibuster a "dangerous precedent."