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 CornynKevin McLaughlin tapped to serve as NRSC executive director for 2020 On The Money: Trump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming | Trump names Mulvaney acting chief of staff | China agrees to 3-month freeze of auto tariffs | Dem to seek Deutsche Bank records of Trump's personal finances The Hill's Morning Report — Trump maintains his innocence amid mounting controversies 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 IsaksonSenators offer measure naming Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi slaying Georgia’s midterm elections reveal historic voter realignment Veterans have been deprived of their earned benefits for two decades 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 ThuneHillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber The Year Ahead: Push for privacy bill gains new momentum On The Money: Trump, Dems battle over border wall before cameras | Clash ups odds of shutdown | Senators stunned by Trump's shutdown threat | Pelosi calls wall 'a manhood thing' for Trump 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 McConnellTrump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law Federal judge in Texas strikes down ObamaCare Ocasio-Cortez: By Lindsey Graham's 1999 standard for Clinton, Trump should be impeached 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 GrassleyFive takeaways from the court decision striking down ObamaCare The Year Ahead: Tough tests loom for Trump trade agenda Senate heads toward floor fight on criminal justice bill 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 CorkerThe Hill's 12:30 Report – Cohen says Trump knew payments were wrong | GOP in turmoil over Trump shutdown threat | Kyl to resign from Senate at year's end The Hill's Morning Report — Trump maintains his innocence amid mounting controversies Overnight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force 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 HatchHatch walks back remarks that he didn't 'care' if Trump broke the law ‘It’s called transparency’ works for Trump on TV, not so much on campaign finance Hatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech 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 FlakeThe Hill's 12:30 Report – Cohen says Trump knew payments were wrong | GOP in turmoil over Trump shutdown threat | Kyl to resign from Senate at year's end Overnight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force Flake asks Daily Show where he can get a blanket emblazoned with his 'meaningless tweets' 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 MurkowskiHouse funding bill scraps Arctic icebreaker program Senate advances Trump energy pick after Manchin flips The Senate must reject Bernard McNamee’s nomination for FERC MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force House Dems follow Senate action with resolution to overturn IRS donor disclosure guidance Senate votes to overturn IRS guidance limiting donor disclosure MORE (Maine) remain undecided and aren't expected to make a decision until Thursday's hearing.

Updated at 4:30 p.m.