The Senate has advanced Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination in a key procedural vote this morning, putting him one step closer to confirmation and ending a deeply partisan and rancorous fight in the Senate.
The chamber voted 51 to 49 to advance the nomination after Republican leaders secured the votes of two GOP senators and one Democrat who had not publicly announced their intentions before arriving to vote.
The last of the undecided votes began falling into place as the senators after the senators reviewed a highly anticipated report from the FBI investigating allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh.
Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Susan Collins (Maine), two of the Republican holdouts, voted to advance President Trump’s nominee, while Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) was the only GOP senator to break with her party
Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), a red-state Democrat up for reelection next month, was the only Democrat to support Kavanaugh.
The vote today is a strong indication that Kavanaugh will win confirmation but some votes could change. Collins considered a key swing vote, said that she would vote to advance the nomination but wait until later Friday to say how will vote on confirmation.
I will be voting yes on proceeding to the final confirmation vote and I will announce my intentions on how to vote later today,” Collins told reporters.
Prior the vote, leaders of the chamber traded sharply divergent characterizations of whether Kavanaugh belongs on the court.
Minority Leader Chucky Schumer (D-N.Y.) called Kavanaugh’s nomination “one of he saddest, most sordid chapters in the long history of the federal judiciary.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, praised the qualifications of the president’s nominee and said he had been the victim of an “unbelievable mudslide” of unsubstantiated allegations.
The jockeying for final votes to confirm Kavanaugh played out after the senators review the highly anticipated report from the FBI investigating two allegations of decades-old misconduct against Kavanaugh.
Republicans argued that it exonerated Kavanaugh of any wrongdoing, giving senators more confidence in voting to confirm him. But Democrats disputed the Republicans’ assertions, especially because, they argued, the scope of the investigation was too limited.
The 46-page FBI report cannot be released publicly, and senators are barred from talking about it in detail. All day Thursday and this morning, senators shuffled in and out of a secure facility at the Capitol to read through the report, which included copies of interviews with key witnesses and stacks of material gleaned from an FBI tip line.
(c) 2018 The Washington Post