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Senate GOP expects FBI report by Wednesday afternoon

Senate Republican leaders expect the FBI to provide its supplementary background report on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday and to vote on the nominee Friday or Saturday.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Through a national commitment to youth sports, we can break the obesity cycle Florida politics play into disaster relief debate MORE (S.D.) said after a GOP conference lunch meeting that senators are expected to get the report Wednesday afternoon.

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“The leader’s assumption, and I assume he knows more about this than the rest of us, is that it’s coming today,” Thune said, referring to the expectations of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats slide in battle for Senate McConnell and wife confronted by customers at restaurant Pelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care MORE (R-Ky.).

Thune said that would set up a Friday cloture vote to end debate on Kavanaugh.

A second Republican senator, who requested anonymity to talk about internal discussions, said the plan is to hold the cloture vote on Friday.

The lawmaker said he expects McConnell to file a motion Wednesday to end debate on the nominee, which would give senators time to review the FBI report while procedural time runs off the clock.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerThe Memo: Trump in a corner on Saudi Arabia Corker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE (R-Tenn.) separately told reporters that it's "likely" to be handed over on Wednesday and Sen. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks GOP shrugs off dire study warning of global warming MORE (R-S.D.) said Republican senators "expected" that the FBI would be able to give them the report later Wednesday. 

“That’s what we’re being told,” GOP Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator seeking information on FBI dealings with Bruce Ohr, former DOJ lawyer Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Senate Homeland chair vents Mueller probe is preventing panel from receiving oversight answers MORE (Wis.) told reporters, asked if they expected the FBI would wrap up its work on Wednesday.

Senate rules require an intervening day to pass between when a GOP leader files a motion to end dilatory debate and when the Senate votes on the motion.

That means if McConnell files cloture to end debate on Kavanaugh on Wednesday evening, the vote could take place Friday.

If he waits until Thursday morning, the Senate could vote on cloture one hour after the end of the day Friday, at 1:01 a.m. Saturday. The rules require a vote take place at least one hour after the chamber convenes on the second day.

McConnell vowed on Monday that the Senate would vote on Kavanaugh this week.

“The time for endless delay and obstruction has come to a close,” he said on the floor. “We’ll be voting this week.”

He reiterated Wednesday that the Senate would vote on Kavanaugh this week.

"The FBI is finishing up a supplemental background investigation. ... Then, pursuant to last week’s agreement of a delay no longer than one week, the Senate will vote on this nomination this week," he said from the Senate floor. 

The FBI was tasked last week with investigating several sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, whose nomination has been stuck in limbo.

Under the original one-week timeline, the bureau has until Friday to finish its investigation but Republicans had been hopeful they would finish their work early enabling them to stick to their timeline of voting on Kavanaugh by the end of the week.

Senators aren't expecting the FBI to release findings or a determination as part of its investigation. Instead, they expect the bureau to turn over notes and transcripts, which would then be available for senators to review ahead of a vote. 

"What we think is going to happen is they're going to transmit a stack of 302s where they went and talked to people. ... My understanding is they're just going to send raw data," Corker said.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) said the FBI report will be disseminated to lawmakers through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“It’s going to be given to the Judiciary Committee and senators will be invited to come by and read it,” he said.

Democrats and some moderate swing-vote Republicans voiced concerns earlier this week that the White House was trying to micromanage and limit the investigation. A member of the legal team for Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh's first accuser, told The Hill after the Senate GOP caucus lunch on Wednesday that they had not heard from the FBI. 

But Republicans are hopeful that, absent a bombshell, the FBI report will help shore up GOP support for Kavanaugh, who remains short of the simple majority needed to be confirmed.

McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that the FBI's report will be available to be viewed by every senator but will not be released publicly, which is in line with how updates to background files are typically handled.

The issue has become a sticking point for Democrats, and some Republicans, who want at least part of the report or a summary of the report to be made public. Senators argue that otherwise the FBI's work will be selectively leaked and spun by both sides.

"I'm actually of the view that whatever could be made public here, should be. But that would be well outside the normal way these things are treated," Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters Congress moves to ensure the greater availability of explosives detecting dogs in the US McConnell sets key Kavanaugh vote for Friday MORE (R-Mo.) told reporters.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.) acknowledged that releasing the FBI's report wasn't the "usual practice" but argued the circumstances around Kavanaugh's nomination meant it should be shared publicly.

"The findings of the FBI investigation upon completion should be released publicly with any personal information redacted. This is not the usual practice but it's been done in the past when it's needed, and it's sure needed now," he said.

Updated at 3:51 p.m.