The Senate on Friday morning voted to move forward to the final confirmation vote of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, which is expected to take place late Saturday afternoon.
The chamber approved, by a vote of 51-49, a cloture motion that limits debate on the nomination to 30 hours. Undecided Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) all voted in favor of the procedural motion, but did not indicate whether they would vote in favor of the final confirmation. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK) voted against the cloture motion.
One note of caution ahead of this vote: on rare occasion, people vote for procedural motions and against the final product.
John McCain last year voted for the motion to proceed to the health care bill and a couple days later jabbed his thumb down and tanked it.
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) October 5, 2018
It is unclear whether Republicans have the votes to clear Kavanaugh’s nomination. On Thursday, Republican Sen. Steve Daines (MT) said he would not be in town if the Senate votes on the nomination on Saturday due his daughter’s wedding. Daines was a guaranteed “yes” vote. Earlier on Thursday, red-state Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (ND), another likely swing vote, stated she would be voting against the nomination. The Democrats currently have 48 guaranteed “no” votes; they need 51 in order to quash the nomination.
Senators spent much of the day Thursday reviewing the supplemental FBI background investigation of Kavanaugh, who has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct and assault by three women. The brief and limited investigation did not include interviews with Kavanaugh, his former classmates, or Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of attempting to rape her at a party during the 1980s. Despite this, both the White House and Republicans insisted that the investigation revealed no corroborating evidence of sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and several other Republican senators on the committee held a press conference Thursday, defending the investigation and slamming Democrats for delaying the process.
“I’m disappointed in my Democratic colleagues for what they’re doing,” Hatch said. “There’s no excuse for it, but they’re doing it … After investigations from both the committee and the FBI, we have found nothing, absolutely nothing to corroborate the accusations against [Kavanaugh]. And we need to confirm him right away.”
As ThinkProgress has previously reported, Dr. Ford’s testimony has been corroborated by multiple people, who have claimed, in sworn affidavits, that Dr. Ford told them about her assault well before Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court. Assault allegations aside, Kavanaugh has also come under fire for possible perjury, claims Republicans have ignored.
Meanwhile, protests against Kavanaugh reached a boiling point Thursday and into Friday, as thousands of activists across the country called on senators to block the judge’s nomination.
UPDATE: Following the cloture vote, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) announced that he will, in fact, make himself available for the final confirmation vote. It is likely that Republicans will hold the vote open to accommodate Daines.