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 GrassleyLighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal Bottom line Graham: FBI investigation in 2016 turned into a 'criminal conspiracy' MORE (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee chairman.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynHillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling Lighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal 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 GrahamRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Hillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings 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 McConnellRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial On The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday McConnell: Senate impeachment trial will begin in January 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 HatchKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Trump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske Trump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals 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 FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing 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.