July 26, 2021

Senate votes to advance Kavanaugh nomination, setting up final vote for Saturday.

The Senate voted Friday to end debate on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, moving the chamber to a final vote Saturday evening amid a rancorous fight over decades-old sexual assault allegations against him.

The vote to invoke cloture was 51-49.

While the vote was not necessarily indicative of the final confirmation vote, it moved him one step closer to sitting on the highest court in the land and three out of four key senators voted “yes” to advance the nomination.

Kavanaugh’s nomination was embroiled in a controversy that gripped the nation after multiple women made sexual assault allegations originating from his time in high school and college. The most prominent allegation was from California professor Christine Blasey Ford, who said that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a high school party. That allegation resulted in a high-stakes Senate Judiciary hearing last week where both Ford and Kavanaugh testified.

Democrats said the allegations were credible and deserved a full investigation, while Republicans accused Democrats of using uncorroborated allegations to scuttle or delay the nomination — leading to a stream of angry flashpoints between lawmakers. The accusations eventually led to President Trump ordering an FBI investigation. Republicans who had seen the FBI’s report said the FBI had produced no credible corroboration of the allegations.

Ahead of Saturday’s vote, all eyes were on four undecided senators who are widely seen as the swing votes: Republican Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, as well as West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. Collins, Flake and Manchin all voted “yes” on cloture, with Murkowski voting “no.”

With a 51-49 majority in the Senate, Republicans can afford no more than one defection from their ranks if all Democrats vote together. Collins was expected to announce her decision in a speech on the Senate floor at 3 p.m. Friday.