— -- The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday to advance Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Next, the entire chamber will take up his confirmation.
Democrats have secured enough votes to keep debate open, but Republicans have threatened to change rules that have been in place since the founding of the country and have promised to call for a final vote by the end of this week.
Below is a look at how ABC News expects the week to play out based on conversations with Democratic and Republican lawmakers and their staff.
Floor action: Gorsuch nomination brought to the floor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., files cloture, the first step in Senate procedure to start a series of votes and pass a legislative item in the chamber.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Senate Democrats will have their weekly closed-door lunch, where they expect to get guidance from leadership on how they should treat the next few days leading up to and during the rules change and the votes, including whether they undertake some sort of coordinated visual protest like signs or pins.
Floor action: The "intervening day" during which no action on the cloture motion can take place.
Thursday – ‘nuclear option’ day
Floor action: The cloture motion, which at this moment requires 60 votes, "ripens" and is ready to be voted on.
Assuming cloture at 60 fails, McConnell will likely enter a series of procedural gymnastics collectively referred to as the "nuclear option," changing Senate practice on Supreme Court cloture votes from 60 to 51 votes. After the "nuclear option," the Senate will vote again to invoke cloture on a simple majority vote.
Behind the scenes, Democratic activists are spoiling for some sort of theater during or after the nuclear option proceedings, which go relatively quickly. Any action hasn't been publicly decided, but Democrats could try to hold the floor all night in a series of round-the-clock speeches in which they rail against Gorsuch and Republicans for changing longstanding Senate procedure.
Friday - confirmation day
Floor action: After up to 30 hours post-cloture, the Senate votes on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, which requires a simple majority of 51 votes.