WASHINGTON –– Democrats have enough votes to use a tactic called a filibuster to thwart President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Four more Senate Democrats said they would use the procedural roadblock on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, giving the party the 41 votes they need.
Republicans may then resort to the so-called “nuclear option”, changing the rules to ram through their nominee.
The nomination went through committee on Monday.
The stage is now set for a showdown on Friday when it goes to the full Senate.
The standoff could leave Congress even more plagued by bitter gridlock.
Many Democrats say Gorsuch has shown he is too prone to favouring corporations to earn their support.
Republicans control the Senate chamber by 52 to 48, but need 60 votes to overcome a Democratic filibuster.
But changing the rules means they can overcome the obstruction without 60 votes.
The full Senate chamber is expected to vote on Friday after three days of debate.
At Monday’s hearing, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein attacked the nominee’s rulings in cases involving a sacked truck driver and an autistic child.
Gorsuch sided with a haulage firm that sacked an Illinois driver after he left a trailer in 2009 when its brakes seized up in sub-zero temperatures and he began to feel numb from the cold.
Feinstein also railed against Gorsuch’s record as a lawyer in former President George W Bush’s Justice Department on so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”.
But South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham warned: “If we have to, we will change the rules. And it looks like we’re going to have to.”
Democrats are also still fuming at Senate Republicans for refusing to even consider then-Democratic President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee last year.
There has been a vacancy on America’s highest court since conservative judge Antonin Scalia died in February 2016.
If confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would restore the conservative majority to the nine-seat bench, which holds the final say in US legal matters.