The Senate plowed Tuesday toward a historic and bitter showdown over President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, with a parade of lawmakers taking to the Senate floor to deliver politically charged speeches for and against the president’s pick as a final vote neared. There was no sign of compromise as the chamber formally opened debate on Judge Neil Gorsuch, who Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted will be confirmed on Friday before senators leave town for the two-week Easter recess.

In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell, R-Ky., faulted Democrats for “hurtling toward the abyss” and “trying to take the Senate with them.” He urged them to “reconsider” tactics.

“It appears as if cloture will not be invoked, but we’ll find out on Thursday,” McConnell later told reporters, referring to an expected Democratic blockade of the federal appeals court judge. “But either way, we’ll be moving toward confirming Judge Gorsuch.”

Only four Democrats have vowed they will side with Republicans to break that blockade and move to consider Gorsuch on the Senate floor. The Democratic obstruction is expected to compel GOP leaders to eliminate a 60-vote requirement for Supreme Court nominees and allow confirmation of Gorsuch with a simple majority vote.

The partisan standoff underscores the sharp polarization that has seized Congress. Senate Democrats angered by Trump’s policies – and McConnell’s refusal to consider then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee last year – have united against Gorsuch, clinching enough votes to block him earlier this week.

It also heralds a potentially more contentious climate in the Senate, which traditionally has allowed the minority party to exert a powerful voice in debate over key nominations and legislation. Senate Democrats changed the rules in 2013 to permit executive-branch nominees and federal judges to be approved by a simple majority, with the critical exception of Supreme Court selections.

But doing away with the 60-vote barrier would eliminate the minority party’s historic influence over who the president nominates to the high court, and significantly decrease its ability to help exercise a check on the executive branch.

“There’s a reason they call it the nuclear option, and that is that there’s fallout. And this fallout will be dangerously and perhaps disastrously radioactive for the Senate in years to come,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

The so-called “nuclear option” – in this case, allowing high court nominees to be approved by a simple majority – may also further poison relations between Democrats and Republicans as each side is embittered by the other’s behavior. That could have a practical impact on Trump’s agenda, such as passing a complex tax package, health-care legislation and an infrastructure plan.

McConnell said that while he is prepared to deploy the nuclear option to overcome Democratic resistance, he vowed not to end the 60-vote threshold on legislation while he is majority leader, maintaining what is known on Capitol Hill as the “filibuster” as it pertains to making laws.

“There’s no sentiment to change the legislative filibuster,” he said.

Senate Democrats said the only way they will end their resistance is if Trump submits a new nominee. They portrayed Gorsuch as outside the mainstream and expressed doubts that he has sufficiently demonstrated his independence from Trump.

“If Senator McConnell is willing to be reasonable and cooperate in a bipartisan way, we can avoid the nuclear option,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

As Democrats and Republicans took turns on the Senate floor on Tuesday, they delivered sharply contrasting speeches. Democrats repeatedly brought up Garland, casting Gorsuch as beholden to wealthy corporate interests and not average Americans. They expressed concern about confirming Trump’s nominee at a time when ties between his team and Russia have come under heavy scrutiny.

“I think it is crazy that we are considering confirming a lifetime Trump nominee … when the president’s campaign is under the cloud of an active, ongoing FBI counter-intelligence … investigation that could result in indictments and appeals that will go all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.