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GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week

GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week
© Greg Nash

Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are opening the door to the panel voting on Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination this week.

GOP senators on Monday said the committee could vote this week, while deferring a decision to Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: House set to vote on bill targeting drug companies for overcharging Medicaid | Dems press Trump officials on pre-existing conditions | Tobacco giant invests .8B in Canadian marijuana grower House set to vote on bill cracking down on drug companies overcharging Medicaid Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee chairman.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynUS-Saudi relationship enters uncharted territory Senate edges closer to rebuking Trump on Saudi Arabia Texas lawmakers introduce legislation aimed at helping border counties identify missing migrants MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters he would defer to Grassley on the timing of the vote but "Friday would be possible."

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Under that timeline, senators would vote on Kavanaugh's nomination in the Judiciary Committee roughly a day after he and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing him of sexual assault, are testifying publicly.

GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamUS-Saudi relationship enters uncharted territory Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform Overnight Defense: Nauert tapped for UN envoy | Trump teases changes to Joint Chiefs of Staff | Trump knocks Tillerson as 'dumb as a rock' | Scathing report details Air Force failures before Texas shooting MORE (S.C.) predicted the panel would not vote on Thursday but that he would be "OK" with the panel voting on Thursday or Friday.

"I'm ready to move forward after the hearing as soon as possible," said Graham, who could become chairman of the committee next year if Republicans hold onto the Senate and Grassley becomes chairman of the Finance Committee.

The committee vote was initially scheduled for Monday but postponed after staff for Grassley and lawyers for Ford got an agreement for a public hearing to take place on Thursday.

Spokesmen for Grassley repeatedly shot down questions from reporters around Capitol Hill on Monday about when the panel would vote. If Republicans wanted to vote on Friday they would need to publicly notice the vote on Tuesday, absent a deal with Democrats.

The comments from Cornyn and Graham come after GOP members of the Judiciary Committee meet in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference Sunday shows preview: Trade talks, Cohen sentencing memo take center stage Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform MORE's (R-Ky.) office on Monday night to discuss the details of Thursday's hearing. Grassley, leaving the meeting, said senators "just discussed the general situation."

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchInternet gambling addiction is a looming crisis Trump runs into GOP opposition with NAFTA threat Hatch weighs in on reported push to ban phrases like 'bringing home the bacon' with video MORE (R-Utah), a former committee chairman and current member, told reporters before the meeting that senators would have a "markup at the end of the week."

"I'm ready to do whatever [Grassley] wants to do," he told reporters when asked if the committee would vote on Thursday or Friday. "I think he's ready to proceed and I think we ought to by now."

It's unclear if Kavanaugh has the support needed to win a favorable recommendation from the Judiciary Committee.

They hold a one-seat majority on the committee and GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTim Scott: Stop giving court picks with 'questionable track records on race' a Senate vote Flake stands firm on sending a ‘message to the White House’ on Mueller CNN to partner with The Des Moines Register on polling ahead of 2020 Iowa caucuses MORE (Ariz.) has yet to say how he will vote. If Flake voted "no," Kavanaugh could not be sent to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation.

But GOP leadership has other procedural options for getting Kavanaugh to the full Senate. And McConnell said on Monday that he would get an "up or down vote" on the Senate floor.