Kavanaugh advances to final vote
Senators, however, may change their stances when the nominee comes to a final vote.
Update : Collins backs Kavanaugh, all but assuring confirmation
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh advanced to a final confirmation vote, narrowly clearing a key procedural hurdle on Friday morning, 51-49.
YES 51– 49 NO
The vote was mostly on party lines, though Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted “no” and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted “yes.” Kavanaugh’s confirmation is not assured: A handful of senators could conceivably vote differently on Saturday during an expected confirmation vote.
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Most senators sat at their desk as the dramatic roll call unfolded, with major suspense over where Murkowski, Manchin and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) would land. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the first swing vote to support Kavanaugh on the procedural roll call, quickly followed by Flake. Murkowski then inaudibly voted no, a jarring defection that left Republicans with no room for error.
After it was clear that Kavanaugh had the 50 needed vote to advance, Manchin became Kavanaugh’s only Democratic supporter. Manchin, who left the chamber when the clerk called his name, came back into the chamber and voted in favor of Kavanaugh. His phone could be seen ringing and Manchin stared at it as the vote continued.
“This was a mistake. I don’t know. I think we’re going to have to let this vote settle. I think there’s going to be a lot of thought,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is relatively close to Murkowski and Collins.
The two moderate GOP senators sat next to each other during the vote and sat almost motionless. As the vote began to wrap up, Collins and Murkowski chatted amiably, leaning toward each other as they spoke. The two both voted against proceeding to a vote to repeal Obamacare last year, as well as the final measure.
Murkowsi explained she didn’t make up her mind until she walked into the vote on Friday.
“I believe Brett Kavanaugh is a good man,” she says. But he’s “not the right man for the court.”
Flake and Manchin said little to their colleagues during the vote, though Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) patted Manchin on the back at one point. Flake indicated he would support Kavanaugh on the final vote “unless something big changed. I don’t see what would.”
“This is a difficult decision for everybody,” Flake told reporters. Asked if Kavanaugh would be confirmed on Saturday, he said: “I think so.”
Flake, Murkowski, Collins and Manchin were undecided going into the vote, having raised questions about sexual assault investigations facing Kavanaugh and demanding an FBI investigation into those charges.
And Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is set to fly to Montana for his daughter’s wedding, which will occur on Saturday. A Kavanaugh supporter, Daines could be forced to return to D.C. immediately afterward if the Montana Republican is the deciding vote.
“We’ll wait and see how this all unfolds,” Daines said. “We have transportation arranged and we’ll wait and see what happens.”