One of the last obstacles between Brett Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court seat for which he now seems destined has been obliterated by Senate Republicans. By a 51-49 vote, the Senate agreed to cut off debate on his nomination, and signaled that a final vote will likely come on Saturday.
One Republican, Lisa Murkowski, voted “no” to end the debate, and has signaled that she’ll also vote “no” on the nomination itself. Per the NYTimes:
“I believe we’re dealing with issues right now that are bigger than the nominee, and how we ensure fairness and how our legislative and judicial branch can continue to be respected,” she said, choosing her words carefully, her voice filled with emotion.
“This is what I have been wrestling with, and so I made the — took the very difficult vote that I did,” she said. “I believe Brett Kavanaugh’s a good man. It just may be that in my view he’s not the right man for the court at this time.”
However, one Democrat—West Virginia’s Joe Manchin—voted “yes,” a mild surprise that he insists doesn’t guarantee his actual vote on Kavanaugh will be “yes.” That move kept Vice President Mike Pence from having to issue a tiebreaking vote.
Donald Trump, of course, was thrilled:
Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting “YES” to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2018
The final vote, it seems, will come down to Susan Collins (R-ME) and Manchin. If either one of them votes to confirm Kavanaugh, Republicans are guaranteed at least a 50-50 tie, which would be settled in Kavanaugh’s favor by Pence. If both stay on “no,” the nomination could be defeated.
Collins recently described the FBI report as “very thorough,” and has said she’ll announce her intentions today at 3 p.m. She said that her vote to move the confirmation ahead didn’t necessarily mean a “yes” for Kavanaugh, but it would be an enormous surprise if she switched this late in the game.