The Senate is set to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court during a rare Saturday session, marking the end of a deeply partisan and rancorous fight that has rocked some senators' confidence in the upper chamber.
The vote is expected to hand President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE and Senate Republicans their second Supreme Court justice in as many years and deliver a significant victory a month before a midterm election where control of Congress hangs in the balance.
"The mob was not able to intimidate the Senate. We stood up to the mob. We did the right thing for a good man and filled a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) said while taking an early victory lap during an appearance Friday night on Fox News.
The Senate voted to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday morning. Under the chamber’s rules senators can debate the nomination for an additional 30 hours, making a final confirmation vote tentatively scheduled for around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The final vote comes two days after the FBI handed over its report on the sexual misconduct allegations that threw Kavanaugh’s vote into chaos. Democrats argued the White House limited and undercut the FBI report; Republicans countered that it showed no corroboration to the sexual assault allegation from Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s first accuser.
Absent an eleventh-hour surprise in a confirmation fight beset for weeks by unexpected twists, Kavanaugh has locked down the votes needed to be confirmed after three key undecided senators announced on Friday that they would support him.
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Emanuel defends handling of Chicago police shooting amid opposition to nomination Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (R-Maine), in a widely watched floor speech on Friday afternoon, gave Kavanaugh his crucial 50th Senate vote.
Collins said while she believed that Ford had been assaulted, if senators rejected Kavanaugh over uncorroborated accusations it would be "hugely damaging to this confirmation process."
"This debate is complicated further by the fact that the Senate confirmation process is not a trial ... but certain fundamental legal principles about due process, the presumption of innocence and fairness do bear on my thinking and I cannot abandon them," Collins said.
Her announcement came hours after Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donating unused campaign funds to Arizona nonprofit focused on elections: report Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report MORE (R-Ariz.) confirmed that he would vote for Kavanaugh. Shortly after Collins’s announcement, Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinAngus King: Losing climate provisions in reconciliation bill weakens Biden's hands in Glasgow Independent senator: 'Talking filibuster' or 'alternative' an option Rep. Khanna expresses frustration about Sinema MORE (D-W.Va.) said that he would also support Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Manchin, who is running for reelection in a state Trump won by 42 points in 2016, is the only Democrat expected to support Kavanaugh on Saturday. Manchin was one of three Democrats last year to support Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first nominee to the high court.
With Republicans holding a one-seat majority, they could have lost one Republican senator before they needed help from Democrats to confirm Kavanaugh.
Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHouse passes bill to expand workplace protections for nursing mothers Democrats look for plan B on filibuster Senate will vote on John Lewis voting bill as soon as next week MORE (R-Alaska) on Friday evening became the only Republican senator to say that she would oppose Kavanaugh.
"I believe that Judge Kavanaugh is a good man. He's a good man. ... But, in my conscience, because that's how I have to vote ... I could not conclude that he is the right person for the court at this time," Murkowski said during a speech on the Senate floor on Friday night.
She added that she kept going back to Code of Conduct for United States Judges, which says that judges should act in a way at all times that upholds the "public confidence" and avoids "the appearance of impropriety."
"After the hearing that we watched last week, last Thursday, it ... was becoming clearer that appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable," she said, referencing Kavanaugh's combative testimony before the Judiciary Committee in which he repeatedly clashed with Democratic members of the panel.
Murkowski said that while she opposed Kavanaugh's nomination, she would have her vote be marked as "present" as a courtesy to offset the absence of fellow GOP Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Senate GOP seeks bipartisan panel to investigate Afghanistan withdrawal Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (Mont.). Daines, who said he planned to vote for Kavanaugh, left Washington, D.C., on Friday to fly to Montana for his daughter’s wedding on Saturday.
The Alaska Republican is planning to “pair” her vote with Daines, which will let her initially vote “no,” and then withdraw that and change her vote to “present.” The maneuver keeps the vote margin for Kavanaugh’s confirmation the same as if Daines were there for the vote.
The months-long fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination marks one of the most bitter and partisan Supreme Court battles in recent history. Even with Murkowski voting “present,” the final vote margin for Kavanaugh is expected to be the narrowest since Stanley Matthews was confirmed in a 24-23 vote in 1881.
Democrats don’t have the ability to block Kavanaugh’s nomination on their own. But they spent Friday night into Saturday using a rare all-night floor session to lash out at how Republicans have handled Kavanaugh and the sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseUnder pressure, Democrats cut back spending Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Nations plan to pump oil despite net zero promises On The Money — It all comes down to Bernie and Joe MORE (D-R.I.) called Republicans' tactics against Ford a “relentless, indirect bank shot smear.”
But Kavanaugh’s nomination had already spiraled into a partisan brawl before Ford came forward last month with her accusation that Kavanaugh, who denies wrongdoing, sexually assaulted her during a high school party in the early 1980s.
Democrats and their progressive allies had raised the alarm over a myriad of issues where they worry that Kavanaugh will provide conservatives a fifth vote, including abortion and potentially protecting Trump from any court cases that spawn out of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s investigation into potential collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
“He should have announced that he would recuse himself from any case involving the president who appointed him,” Sen. Angus KingAngus KingAngus King: Losing climate provisions in reconciliation bill weakens Biden's hands in Glasgow Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight Independent senator: 'Talking filibuster' or 'alternative' an option MORE (I-Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, said during the Senate’s all-night session.