The procedural hurdle backed by Democrats, called a filibuster, requires a super-majority of 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to allow a confirmation vote.
The likelihood of more partisan wrangling left veteran GOP senators frustrated - and hoping that Democrats would relent in their opposition to the Colorado jurist. However, the nuclear option has not been used for Supreme Court nominees.
Ironically, Democrats, including Merkley, have in past years threatened the nuclear option when their candidates were blocked by Republicans.
Gorsuch, 49, is a 10-year veteran of a federal appeals court in Denver, where he's compiled a highly conservative record that's led Democrats to complain he sides with corporations without regards to the humanity of the plaintiffs before him. Republicans have said regardless of what the Democrats do, Gorsuch will be confirmed on Friday.
He noted that the Senate, under McConnell's guidance, refused a year ago to consider Democratic former President Barack Obama's nomination of appellate judge Merrick Garland to fill the same high court vacancy that Trump has selected Gorsuch to fill.
"The reality of the "nuclear option" in regards to the appointment of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is becoming more and more the generally accepted outcome that is going to occur", Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY, 23rd District) said.
The Kentucky lawmaker also pushed back against critics who argue that the Senate would next dispense with the 60-vote cloture standard for legislation, which could turn the slower and more deliberative body into a fast-moving organ of whichever party is in power. "Schumer convinced Democrats to routinely filibuster judges", McConnell said, referring to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
But McConnell said there is no appetite for that and that it will not happen under his leadership. "He is too extreme for most of the Democrats, which is why we've said we think President Trump should come up with another selection".
Merkley was one of the first opponents of President Trump's nominee, citing Republicans' 2016 blockade of former President Barack Obama's pick to replace the late justice Antonin Scalia. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wraps up the meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, April 3, 2017, after his panel voted along party lines on the nomination of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
"293 days without a fair hearing or vote".
The showdown over the "nuclear option", expected on the Senate floor Thursday, is likely to be accompanied by much hand-wringing from senators bemoaning the decay of the chamber's traditions of bipartisanship and comity.
They're angry that Senate Republicans blocked their candidate.
As the Democrats sought to thwart Gorsuch's confirmation on Tuesday night, Buzzfeed published a report suggesting Gorsuch plagiarized at least one paragraph from a 1984 law review article on Down's syndrome.