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 GrassleyWhite House denies exploring payroll tax cut to offset worsening economy Schumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord GOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation MORE (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee chairman.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape 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 GrahamGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Cindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death Trump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week 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 McConnellGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump 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 HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators 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 FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress 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.