Bench Memos

Floor Vote on Kavanaugh

Senator Frist has committed to do everything in his power to get Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit confirmed by Memorial Day (Monday, May 29).  Except in the highly unlikely case that all senators soon consent to a time agreement on debate and final vote on the Kavanaugh nomination, Frist will need to file a cloture petition.


If I understand the cloture rules correctly, the vote on cloture would take place on the second calendar day after the petition is filed, one hour into the Senate session on that day.  After a successful cloture vote, an additional 30 hours of debate on the nomination would be permitted. 


I don’t know how deep into next week the Senate plans to stay in session, but it would seem that the cloture petition would have to be filed on Tuesday at the latest—and probably ought to be filed on Monday.  While Democrats, following a successful cloture petition, could waive much of the additional 30 hours of debate, it would seem that they could inflict a lot of inconvenience on Republicans by not waiving any time.  All but a few Democrats could head home, while the few that remain would take turns on the Senate floor objecting to any further unanimous-consent agreements.  Meanwhile, virtually all the Republicans would need to remain in D.C. in order to ensure a quorum.


My predictions:  Frist will need to file a cloture petition on Kavanaugh; the vote on cloture will succeed; and Kavanaugh will be confirmed by the end of next week. 

Ed Whelan — Ed Whelan is a leading commentator on nominations to the Supreme Court and the lower courts and on issues of constitutional law.

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