Senate panel schedules Friday morning vote for Kavanaugh

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Friday morning vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, according to a committee notice.

The vote on Kavanaugh — which GOP staff acknowledges could be pushed past Friday — is slated to come just one day after he is scheduled to testify in front of the panel on allegations of sexual misconduct.

One of the two women who has come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of misconduct, Christine Blasey Ford, is also scheduled to testify on Thursday.

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“As a procedural matter, the Judiciary Committee today noticed a potential executive business meeting for Friday, September 28 at 9:30 a.m,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley raises concerns about objectivity of report critical of GOP tax law's effects Overnight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights Key Trump proposal to lower drug prices takes step forward MORE's (R-Iowa) office said in the notice.

“Committee rules normally require executive business meetings to be noticed three days in advance, so an executive business meeting is being noticed tonight in the event that a majority of the members are prepared to hold one on Friday,” they added.

 

The Judiciary Committee has scheduled, and had to postpone, Kavanaugh's nomination several times. 

It was initially set for last week but delayed after Ford went public with her sexual assault allegation. 

It was then scheduled for Monday but postponed again after committee staff and lawyers for Ford got a deal on a public hearing, which will take place on Thursday. 

Ford alleges that at a high school party in the 1980s Kavanaugh pinned her down on a bed and tried to remove her clothing. 

A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, told The New Yorker in an interview published Sunday that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were both students at Yale University. 

Kavanaugh has denied both allegations and said he wants to testify before the Judiciary Committee to "clear my name." 

A White House official told The Hill that Kavanaugh had a phone interview with the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in which he denied the allegations from Ramirez. 

It's unclear if Kavanaugh has the votes for his nomination to be favorably reported to the full Senate. 

Republicans hold a one-seat majority on the committee. GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeJeff Flake becoming Harvard fellow Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.) has yet to say if he will support Kavanaugh. 

If he and all Democrats opposed Kavanaugh, Trump's nominee wouldn't be able to be sent to the Senate with a favorable recommendation. 

But Republicans have other procedural options for bringing him to the Senate floor. Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senators divided over approach to election security Democrats seek to ban federal spending at Trump businesses Congress unlikely to reach deal on Trump border bill before break MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that he was "confident" Kavanaugh would be confirmed and that Republicans would "win" the Supreme Court fight.

Democrats immediately ripped Grassley, arguing that scheduling a vote before Ford has testified shows they aren't committed to a "fair process." 
 
"First Republicans demanded Dr. Blasey Ford testify immediately. Now Republicans don’t even need to hear her before they move ahead with a vote. It’s clear to me that Republicans don’t want this to be a fair process," Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back Democrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills MORE (D-Calif.), the top Democrat in the committee, said in a statement. 
 
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the panel, added that Republicans are showing that "serious, credible allegations of sexual assault" won't stop them from confirming a judicial nominee. 
 
“This rush to judgment betrays any pretense of listening respectfully and honestly to a credible, courageous sexual assault survivor. It is an insult to the entire survivor community," he said.
 
Grassley defended his decision in a tweet, saying he had announced the "potential" for a Friday vote. 
 
"Still taking this 1 step at a time. After hrg Dr Ford & Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony- if we‘re ready to vote, we will vote. If we aren’t ready, we won’t. Cmte rules normally require 3 days notice so we‘re following regular order," he said.
 
Holding a Judiciary Committee vote on Friday would set up the Senate to try to wrap up Kavanaugh's nomination by early next week. 
 
Senators left a closed-door caucus lunch saying they expected to be in session through the weekend to burn the procedural clock on Kavanaugh's nomination, and potentially hold a final vote next Tuesday. 
 
"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," GOP Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters.
 
If the Judiciary Committee sent Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate on Friday, that would allow McConnell to file cloture as early as Saturday and hold an initial vote as early as Monday.
 
Kavanaugh will need the support of a majority of the Senate to be confirmed. He is currently several votes short. In addition to Flake, GOP Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Overnight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Overnight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial MORE (Maine) have yet to say how they will vote. 
 
Republicans can lose one GOP senator before they need help from Democrats to confirm Kavanaugh. No Democrats have yet to say they will support him. 
 
Jordan Fabian contributed.