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 CollinsSenate votes to overturn IRS guidance limiting donor disclosure Trump attorney general pick a prolific donor to GOP candidates, groups: report Lobbying World MORE (R-Maine) and Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy — Sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board — Trump moves to ease Obama water rule | EPA document contradicts agency over water rule data| Manchin to be top Dem on Senate Energy panel Coal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee Schumer to Trump: Future infrastructure bill must combat climate change MORE (D-W.Va.), the only Democrat to back President TrumpDonald John TrumpActivists highlight Trump ties to foreign autocrats in hotel light display Jose Canseco pitches Trump for chief of staff: ‘Worried about you looking more like a Twinkie everyday’ Dershowitz: Mueller's report will contain 'sins' but no 'impeachable offense' 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 FlakePence casts tie-breaking vote for Trump appeals court judge Dem: 'Disheartening' that Republicans who 'stepped up' to defend Mueller are leaving Flake: Republican Party ‘is a frog slowly boiling in water’ 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 MurkowskiSenate advances Trump energy pick after Manchin flips The Senate must reject Bernard McNamee’s nomination for FERC Overnight Defense: Congress pauses to mourn George H.W. Bush | Haspel to brief senators on Khashoggi killing | Soldier is fourth to die from Afghan IED blast 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 DeVosJob satisfaction down at nearly 60 percent of federal agencies Why afterschool is a proven and smart choice The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Bush memorial service in Houston | House passes two-week spending measure | Markets drop after Chinese executive's arrest 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 DainesOvernight Health Care: Senators urge vote on delaying health insurance tax | Joe Kennedy III 'hopeful' he can back 'Medicare for all' bill | Latest Ebola outbreak becomes world's 2nd-worst Overnight Defense: Senate rebukes Trump with Yemen vote | Mattis, Pompeo briefing fails to quell Senate concerns with Saudis | Graham demands CIA briefing on Khashoggi | Pentagon identifies three troops killed in Afghanistan Senate GOP presses Trump to move on new NAFTA deal before Dems take over House 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 Gianforte'Murphy Brown' episode focuses on assault of reporter at Trump rally Montana New Members 2019 Gianforte defeats Democrat for Montana's at-large congressional seat 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 HeitkampHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates MORE (D-N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches Schumer gets ready to go on the offensive 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 SchumerSenators prepare for possibility of Christmas in Washington during a shutdown Mania at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Trump, Democratic leaders go toe-to-toe at White House 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.