Four years after Senate Democrats deployed the so-called nuclear option, Senate Republicans triggered it Thursday by a party-line vote of 52-48 to move President Donald Trump’s nominee closer to joining the Supreme Court.

The successful bid by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to invoke the nuclear option means waiver of the 60-vote threshold to end debate on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Just one vote with 51 senators voting in the affirmative will be required to confirm Gorsuch.

Republicans hold a majority of 52 seats in the 100-seat Senate.

A final confirmation vote for Gorsuch is expected Friday night.  

McConnell triggered the nuclear option after the vote to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination failed 55-45, ABC News reported. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., unsuccessfully tried twice to stall McConnell’s efforts, the network noted.

“This is the latest escalation in the left’s never-ending judicial war, the most audacious yet,” McConnell said on the Senate floor of Democrats’ intention to mount a filibuster to block Gorsuch’s confirmation. “And it cannot and will not stand.”

Trump nominated Gorsuch, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

Senate Democrats have refused to support Gorsuch because Republicans didn’t allow a confirmation vote on President Barack Obama’s election-year nomination of another appeals judge, Merrick Garland, to replace Scalia.

In 2013, Democrats used the “nuclear option” to abolish the filibuster on most presidential nominees, except for nominees to the Supreme Court.

McConnell cited this precedent as grounds for triggering the nuclear option to confirm Gorsuch, but warned Democrats not to invite such drastic measures in the future. The filibuster as a tool for the minority to block legislative action remains intact.

Senate Rule 22, requiring 60 votes to end debate on nominees, has not changed, said Rachel Bovard, director of policy services at The Heritage Foundation and a former Senate aide.

“The rules aren’t changed. The way the Senate operates on precedent is changed,” Bovard said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

A Republican Senate aide agreed.

“Literally nothing changed today,” the aide said. “Starting in 2013, all presidential nominees have needed just 51 votes to end debate. None have needed 60. That is still true after today.”

Bovard said the nuclear option “violates” Senate rules, however.

“The nuclear option violates the Senate’s standing rules, which require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, by setting a precedent for confirmation of Supreme Court nominees at a majority threshold,” Bovard said in an earlier interview. “If the Senate actually wanted to change its standing rules, 67 votes would be required.”  

In October, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., predicted his party would “change the Senate rules” to confirm a ninth Supreme Court justice if Democrats won control of the upper chamber in November.