Kavanaugh secures votes needed for Senate confirmation

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday secured the support needed for Senate confirmation, setting the stage for a final vote on Saturday that will cap a fiercely partisan months-long battle over his nomination.

Kavanaugh gained the crucial backing of Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care MORE (R-Maine) and Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate MORE (D-W.Va.), the only Democrat to back President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE’s pick to succeed former Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Collins announced her position on the Senate floor Friday afternoon at the end of of roughly 45-minute speech that was briefly delayed by protesters in the chamber.

“Despite the turbulent, bitter fight surrounding his nomination, my fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court so that we have far fewer 5-4 decisions and so that public confidence in our judiciary and our highest court is restored,” Collins said in a Senate floor speech, surrounded by roughly two dozen of her GOP colleagues. “I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”

Manchin announced his position just minutes after Collins’s speech.

“I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him,” Manchin, who is up for reelection in a state Trump won by double digits, said in a statement. “I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court.”

Collins and Manchin give Kavanaugh his 50th and 51st supporter ahead of Saturday’s final vote, securing the simple majority needed to be confirmed.

Kavanaugh is on track to be confirmed by the narrowest margin since 1881, when the Senate approved Stanley Matthews's nomination in a 24-23 vote.

Collins and Manchin were among four key senators who had not announced their positions heading into Friday’s 10:30 a.m. vote on whether to proceed with the Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (R-Ariz.), who is retiring after 2018, said after the morning vote that he will back Kavanaugh on Saturday.

GOP leadership said they view Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (R-Alaska) as a likely “no” vote after she became the only Republican senator to vote against moving forward with Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Murkowski, who isn’t up for reelection until 2022, has earned a reputation for having an independent streak that includes voting against the GOP ObamaCare repeal effort and the nomination of Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosStudents call on DeVos to offer free tampons, pads in schools to address 'period poverty' DeVos recovering from broken pelvis, hip socket after bicycle accident Student veterans deserve better than the DeVos agenda MORE.

The Alaska Republican told reporters that she “wrestled” with Kavanaugh’s nomination but felt that the debate had become larger than just deciding if Trump’s pick was qualified.

"I believe that Brett Kavanaugh is a good man,” she said. “I believe he is a good man, it just may be that in my view he's not the right man for the court at this time."

Her opposition to Kavanaugh won’t be enough to sink his nomination on Saturday, assuming there isn’t a final twist in the chaotic fight over Kavanaugh.

Republicans hold a slim 51-seat majority in the Senate. If Murkowski votes “no,” they can still afford to lose one GOP senator since Manchin has crossed the aisle.

The support from Manchin and Collins also could allow Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesMontana governor visiting Iowa amid talk of possible 2020 bid Will Senate GOP try to pass a budget this year? Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal MORE (Mont.) to skip a return trip to Washington after attending his daughter’s wedding in Montana on Saturday. Daines left after the Friday morning vote but said Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteSarah Sanders: ‘Absurd’ to say Trump has encouraged violence at rallies Montana Dems introduce bill increasing penalties for assaulting journalists Here are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown MORE (R-Mont.) had offered him a plane if Republicans needed to hold the vote open for him to get Kavanaugh confirmed.

“We’re going to have a new Supreme Court justice this weekend and I’m going to get to walk my daughter down the aisle,” Daines told reporters on Friday, adding that the situation was “covered.”

No Democrat besides Manchin is expected to vote for Kavanaugh. Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (D-N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D-Ind.) — who, like Manchin, supported Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch — voted against advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday morning.

Democrats have taken to the Senate floor on Friday to argue why they believe Kavanaugh should not be confirmed.

"President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court will go down as one of the saddest, most sordid chapters in the long history of the federal judiciary," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.) said.

"The well was poisoned from the outset, when Present Trump selected Judge Kavanaugh from a list of names pre-approved by hard right special interest groups, for whom the national interest is a trifling concern compared to repealing Roe v. Wade, cutting people’s health care, and achieving a partisan majority on the Supreme Court," he added.