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 GrassleyOn The Money: Inside the Mueller report | Cain undeterred in push for Fed seat | Analysis finds modest boost to economy from new NAFTA | White House says deal will give auto sector B boost The 7 most interesting nuggets from the Mueller report Government report says new NAFTA would have minimal impact on economy MORE (R-Iowa), the Judiciary Committee chairman.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Trump struggles to reshape Fed 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 GrahamIf you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again Graham challenges Dems to walk the walk on impeachment Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem candidates sell policy as smart politics Overnight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for buying Iranian oil | At least four Americans killed in Sri Lanka attacks | Sanders pushes for Yemen veto override vote McConnell: 'Time to move on' from Trump impeachment talk 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 HatchHatch warns 'dangerous' idea of court packing could hurt religious liberty Former Democratic aide pleads guilty to doxing GOP senators attending Kavanaugh hearing How do we prevent viral live streaming of New Zealand-style violence? 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 FlakePollster says Trump unlikely to face 'significant' primary challenge Trump gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing Flake opens up about threats against him and his family 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.