Sen. Joe Manchin encountered the full force of dissent filling the halls of the Senate following his controversial nod to move Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation proceedings to a final vote, on Friday, October 5.
Manchin struggled to get a word in edgewise upon being asked about his decision by reporters awaiting him in the Hart Senate Office Building lobby. Behind the crowd of cameras and recorders surrounding the West Virginia lawmaker was a legion of protesters, who had come from far and wide to take a stance against Kavanaugh being confirmed over the past week. He eventually got around to answering for his vote, but not before being drowned out by chants of “look at us!” and “shame!”
“I’m very much concerned with the sexual abuse that people have had to endure, and I’m very much concerned that we have to do something as a country. But, I had to deal with the facts that I had in front of me,” Manchin told CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju.
Sen. Manchin had just contributed to a 51-49 edge in favor of granting Kavanaugh a final vote, as the only Democrat in the entire chamber to put an “aye” up for the judge. Coming into the morning session, a lot hinged on the red state senator, seeing as how he was one of four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to have remained noncommittal on how he would side. Of the four, the only other to counter their party’s consensus was Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who — as a Republican — voted against a Kavanaugh confirmation.
Manchin getting shouted down and heckled by protesters while speaking live on CNN: "Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!" pic.twitter.com/FYy3SolPeF— Brian Ries (@moneyries) October 5, 2018
Rounding out the four Senate holdouts were Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Maine Sen. Susan Collins. Given the nature of the sexual assault allegations that have challenged Kavanaugh’s nomination, there were many eyes on Collins and how she’d vote, considering she is a woman, albeit Republican. As Politico reported, there had been growing speculation that Manchin was also keeping tabs on how Collins might sway, with many suspecting that her decision could influence his. Manchin, in fact, did wait for Collins to reveal her vote before he revealed his, but he denies that the Maine senator had any bearing on his position.
The feeling among expert analysts has been that Manchin’s vote is the result of the pressure he faces from a constituency that has voiced an overwhelming demand for Kavanaugh to be confirmed. The Hill cites more than one poll that shows the majority of West Virginians calling for the judge to be promoted to Supreme Court Justice, and makes note of how the state voted for President Trump over Hillary Clinton by double digits in 2016.
Prior to Friday’s session, Manchin had reportedly met privately with the President about the confirmation.