All eyes are on the United State Senate right now as Senator Mitch McConnell pushes forward on the process to get Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh approved. The FBI investigation that Sen. Jeff Flake prompted last week has wrapped up, and on Friday morning the cloture vote was initiated. This vote, which did pass and was expected by most people to pass, means that the countdown to a final vote has started. A handful of senators have refrained from revealing their voting plans and they are all facing intense pressure as they make their decisions.
As the Business Insider details, Brett Kavanaugh is facing an intense battle heading into this full vote in the Senate. While Sen. Susan Collins of Maine had announced ahead of the cloture vote that she would vote yes on that procedural component, she is not expected to reveal her decision on her ultimate Kavanaugh vote until Friday afternoon.
If all of the Democratic senators vote no on Kavanaugh, the Republicans can only lose one vote and still see Kavanaugh move onto the Supreme Court. If just one Republican votes no, Vice President Mike Pence can step in and break a tie with a yes. However, if the Republicans lose two votes, and all of the Democrats vote no, Kavanaugh will not move forward.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp says she'll vote 'no' on Judge Kavanaugh.— ABC News (@ABC) October 5, 2018
"I can't get up in the morning and look at the life experience that I've had and say 'yes' to Judge Kavanaugh." https://t.co/M0rsYnzPos pic.twitter.com/M0996gTUS3
North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp came out Thursday with a statement detailing that she would vote no on Kavanaugh. She is facing an intense election battle in North Dakota to retain her seat, but she has now said that she simply cannot vote yes. Given that, the only other Democrat who remains publicly undecided is West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. He is also facing a difficult election in his state, and he is facing a lot of pressure with this vote.
In terms of the Republicans, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski have also refrained from revealing their voting intentions. Flake was the key senator who prompted this week’s FBI investigation and he has said that if it were confirmed that Kavanaugh had lied during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, that would lead him to vote no. So far, however, he has played coy on what his vote will be.
Murkowski has been facing intense pressure in Alaska to vote no on Kavanaugh. As Reuters details, Murkowski has been receiving a lot of feedback from her constituents, especially from Alaska’s Native population. The Alaska Federation of Natives has come out against Kavanaugh, and Murkowski has relied greatly on this group’s support in the past.
Just got off the phone with Judge Kavanaugh. Very proud to share that the great people of Montana are standing behind him and I look forward to casting my vote to confirm him. #KavanaughConfirmation pic.twitter.com/f266UKVuNp— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) September 28, 2018
Another potential complication involves Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana. As CNN details, Daines will be in Montana on Saturday to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. With the cloture vote passing Friday morning, that means that the Senate now faces up to 30 hours of debate before a final vote on Kavanaugh can be held.
That would put the final vote, if both the Democrats and Republicans take their full amount of time for debate, on the schedule for Saturday afternoon. If that is when McConnell pushes forward on the vote, the Republicans will be down one with Daines still in Montana. He has said he is willing to fly back early Sunday morning, and it is possible that McConnell could hold the vote until then.
There have been some rumblings of other Republican senators who may be on the fence, such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse. According to Townhall, Sasse has just confirmed that he is a yes for Kavanaugh and KOAA says that Gardner’s office has released a statement confirming his support for the Supreme Court nominee.
At this point, it would appear that all eyes remain on Manchin, Murkowski, Collins, and Flake. There has been talk that the four have been working closely together and plan to all vote the same way. If any one of them comes out on Friday or Saturday confirming that they will vote against Kavanaugh, that could be a significant sign that the vote will not go the Republicans’ way.
For Brett Kavanaugh to end up on the Supreme Court, he needs three of these four unknown votes to give him a yes on this final vote. More information on these votes will likely emerge Friday afternoon and everybody is on pins and needles waiting to see what these four senators decide to do.