Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announces final steps in Kavanaugh confirmation process

The weeks of agonizing drama surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination are finally coming to an end.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tweeted on Thursday that the Senate would hold a vote on Friday morning to determine whether to push Kavanaugh’s nomination through one of its final hurdles. 

The Friday vote was successful, and several key swing-vote senators said they would vote to confirm the nominee — all but guaranteeing that Kavanaugh will make it through when his confirmation is finally called to a vote this weekend.

Successful vote on Friday morning

Senate Republicans secured a 51-49 vote on Friday to open a final 30 hours of debate on the nominee Friday, setting the stage for Kavanaugh to clear a final hurdle over the weekend — but not everyone voted along party lines.

Of a trio of Republican swing votes, two, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), voted yes to end debate. Flake said that he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh barring some significant new development.

But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted no, and called the cloture vote a “mistake.”

“I did not come to a decision on this until walking into the floor this morning,” Murkowski said. “I believe that Brett Kavanaugh is a good man, I believe that 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.”

Meanwhile, one Democrat from a ruby-red state that Trump carried, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), broke with his party to vote yes. Both Manchin and Collins also announced on Friday afternoon that they would vote to confirm, just about ensuring that Kavanaugh will become a judge on the high court.

“We’re heading toward a final vote tomorrow, and I’m optimistic,” McConnell said on Friday afternoon.

Kavanaugh drama nearing conclusion

The procedural vote came after a dramatic day at the Capitol on Thursday that followed the conclusion of a week-long supplementary background investigation into claims of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh from three women. President Donald Trump ordered the investigation last week to satisfy Flake and the Democrats.

A single paper copy of an FBI report was delivered to the Capitol on Thursday morning for the Senate to review in a secure room in the Capitol basement as protesters swarmed Capitol Hill demanding Kavanaugh’s withdrawal. While Republicans said the report vindicated Kavanaugh, Democrats criticized the report as the incomplete result of a white-washed investigation.

Despite complaints from his colleagues across the aisle — or perhaps to spite them — McConnell has charged through with the vote all week, championing Kavanaugh as a supremely qualified judge. McConnell filed a motion to end the debate with the Friday vote on Wednesday night as the FBI was wrapping up its investigation.

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Going into the procedural vote Friday morning, Republicans had good reasons for optimism. There were signs on Thursday that the report, which is not available to the public, had nudged Collins and Flake toward voting to approve Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile, Judge Kavanaugh published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the eve of the vote in that he said he might have been “too emotional” during his testimony at the dramatic Senate hearings last Thursday, but he promised to be a fair, “open-minded” judge if confirmed.

“I revere the Constitution,” Kavanaugh wrote. “If confirmed by the Senate to serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep an open mind in every case and always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law.”
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