The U.S. Senate voted to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination by a margin of 51-49 on Friday morning, with a pair of key Senators indicating they will vote to confirm the nominee in the final Senate vote Saturday.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing has been marred by allegations of sexual misconduct and intense protests.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine addressed the Senate and announced how she would be voting, while Democrat Joe Manchin confirmed his decision shortly after Collins’s remarks concluded.
“We’ve heard a lot of charges and counter-charges about Judge Kavanaugh,” Collins said. “But as those who have known him 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.”
Kavanaugh appears to have the votes needed to be confirmed following the announcements from Collins and Manchin. The so-called cloture vote on Friday morning was a procedural one to end the debate, and some potential swing-vote senators could conceivably still hold out their support in the final confirmation roll call over the weekend.
Collins, Manchin and Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona voted to advance the nomination while Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska did not.
Murkowski said she didn’t make up her mind until walking into the morning vote, calling it the most difficult decision she’s had to make in the Senate.
“I believe he’s a good man,” she told reporters. “It just may be that in my view, he’s not the best man for the court at this time.”
Flake, a member of the judiciary committee who exactly one week earlier pressed for an FBI inquiry into the allegations, said he’ll vote to confirm Kavanaugh “unless something big changes.”