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 CornynOvernight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Bottom Line 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 IsaksonJohnny IsaksonJoe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia Poll: Majority of independent voters want GOP to retain control of Senate in 2020 Embracing President Mike Pence might be GOP's best play 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 ThuneImpeachment threatens to drown out everything Republicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   Embracing President Mike Pence might be GOP's best play 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 McConnellMattis warns 'ISIS will resurge' without U.S. pressure on Syria McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows Hillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference 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 GrassleyPhRMA CEO warns Pelosi bill to lower drug prices would be 'devastating' for industry GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe On The Money: Judge tosses Trump lawsuit over NY tax return subpoena | US, Japan sign trade deals | Trump faces narrowing window for trade deals | NBA sparks anger with apology to China 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 holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals Trump to award Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese Trump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom 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 FlakeAre Senate Republicans certain that Trump can return to office? Jeff Flake calls Trump's language 'authoritarian' Fallout from Kavanaugh confirmation felt in Washington one year later 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 MurkowskiMurkowski warns against rushing to conclusions on Trump impeachment GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Republicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows Congress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds Trump seeks to distance himself from Turkish invasion of Syria MORE (Maine) remain undecided and aren't expected to make a decision until Thursday's hearing.

Updated at 4:30 p.m.