Senate eyes Kavanaugh floor vote next week

Senate Republicans are eyeing a vote on the floor on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination next week.

Senators, while coming out of a closed-door caucus lunch, acknowledged the situation remains fluid, but said they expected to be in session through the weekend to run out the procedural clock, a move that would allow them to wrap up Kavanaugh’s nomination next week.

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GOP Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges MORE (Texas), the No. 2 GOP senator and member of leadership, told reporters that if Kavanaugh could get out of the Judiciary Committee on Friday they would be able to be done with the nomination "by the first part of next week.”

"We need to have a mark up and my hope would be we could have that mark up as early as Friday and be on the floor this weekend," Cornyn told reporters.

Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonGeorgia senator discharged from hospital after fall Georgia senator hospitalized after fall Senate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown MORE (R-Ga.) said he was planning to be around until Tuesday to finish Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“If you plan to do something before next Tuesday I wouldn’t plan on it,” Isakson said.

GOP Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer blasts 'red flag' gun legislation as 'ineffective cop out' Lawmakers jump-start talks on privacy bill Trump border fight throws curveball into shutdown prospects MORE (R-S.D.) initially told reporters that a vote could happen on Tuesday. He later hedged after the lunch saying it depends on how much Democrats drag out the procedural clock. 

If the Judiciary Committee sent Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate on Friday, that would allow Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit McConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster MORE (R-Ky.) to file cloture as early as Saturday and hold an initial vote as early as Monday.

McConnell did not give a specific timeline on Kavanaugh’s nomination during a weekly press conference only saying they would vote in the near future.

"I believe he'll be confirmed, yes," he told reporters.

No schedule on Kavanaugh’s nomination has been formally announced beyond a Thursday hearing where Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman accusing him of sexual assault, are scheduled to testify before the Judiciary Committee. 

Cornyn told reporters Monday evening that it was possible a committee vote could happen by Friday. If the Judiciary Committee wants to vote on Friday, committee chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces White 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 MORE’s (R-Iowa) staff would have to notice the vote on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed confidence that the Senate would confirm Kavanaugh.

“We’re going to be moving forward. I’m confident we’re going to win, confident that he’ll be confirmed in the very near future,” McConnell told reporters. 

McConnell did not specify when Kavanaugh's nomination will come to the Senate floor, except that they would take it up in the "near future."  

A GOP aide, asked about the Tuesday vote timeline, stressed that a final decision had not been made but to not make weekend plans. 

Senators discussed strategy for Kavanaugh during their closed-door lunch. 

Grassley told his colleagues at the lunch to prepare to be in session this weekend, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.) told reporters. 

Cornyn, asked if Grassley specifically said to plan to be in session during the weekend, quipped: "I'm telling you."

"We're going to be here this weekend," he added.

Several other senators said that a final decision had not been made but that they expect to be in session to try to run out the procedural clock on Kavanaugh's nomination over the weekend.  

"I'll be here. ... I think that it's going to be pretty hard to move this along without having votes on certainly Friday and Saturday," GOP 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 (Utah) told reporters. 

GOP Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) asked about the weekend told reporters, "I think we are going to be in session."

The decision to move forward with Kavanaugh's nomination comes even as he appears short of the simple majority support needed to be confirmed.

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeAnti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid Arpaio 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 MORE (Ariz.) has yet to say if he will support Kavanaugh's nomination or the Judiciary Committee voting this week on the nomination.

If he voted against the nomination in committee it would leave Kavanaugh without the simple majority support needed to be confirmed.

Cornyn said leadership is in constant communication with Flake, who has not voted this week, but added that he hadn't yet heard demands for more time between a hearing and a vote.

Kavanaugh would need a simple majority to be confirmed by the full Senate.

In addition to Flake, GOP Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: Insurance lobby chief calls Biden, Sanders health plans 'similarly bad' | Trump officials appeal drug price disclosure ruling | Study finds 1 in 7 people ration diabetes medicine due to cost Collins downplays 2020 threat: 'Confident' reelection would go well if she runs Cook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' MORE (Maine) remain undecided and aren't expected to make a decision until Thursday's hearing.

Updated at 4:30 p.m.