The Senate voted 51-49 to end debate on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Friday morning, moving his nomination to the floor for a final vote that is expected to take place on Saturday afternoon.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, one of three key undecided Republican votes, voted to move the nomination to the floor for a final vote, but said on Friday morning that she would not announce her final decision on Kavanaugh’s confirmation until the afternoon.
Senator Jeff Flake, previously undecided, also voted yes, while his Republican colleague Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against advancing the vote. Democratic senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia crossed party lines, voting to advance.
The vote marks the beginning of the end of a protracted, heated partisan battle over Kavanaugh’s confirmation, a fight that began in earnest earlier this month when Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down and attempting to remove her clothes during a high-school party 36 years ago. A number of other women came forward in the ensuing days to make a range of sexual-misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, with varying degrees of credibility.
The nomination was moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last Friday, but only after Flake extracted a promise to delay a final confirmation vote until the FBI could complete a supplementary background investigation into the allegations, limited to one week.
At the direction of the White House, FBI investigators spoke with a number of witnesses and were unable to corroborate any of the claims made by Ford or her fellow accuser Deborah Ramirez, a Yale alumnus who claims Kavanaugh drunkenly exposed himself to her during a freshman dorm party.
Democrats have maligned the investigation as a sham, citing the numerous witnesses who asked to be interviewed but were ignored by the bureau. Republicans, meanwhile have complained about the conduct of Ford’s attorneys, who have refused Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley’s multiple requests for documentation substantiating her claims, maintaining that they will only turn over the documents — which include therapist’s notes and polygraph-test results — if their client is first interviewed by the FBI.