Kavanaugh nomination clears key Senate hurdle

Bitterly divided Senate pushes Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh past procedural hurdle, final weekend vote likely.

Posted: Oct 5, 2018 10:35 AM
Updated: Oct 5, 2018 11:02 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate has pushed Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court past a key procedural hurdle.
The chamber voted 51-49 to move forward with President Donald Trump's nominee.

A final vote on Kavanaugh's nomination could occur over the weekend.

There's no guarantee that the senators who supported moving forward will back Kavanaugh on the final vote. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who voted to advance Kavanaugh, said she will announce her decision on confirmation later Friday. Also voting to move the nomination forward was Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who had been undecided. But Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted against moving the nomination forward.

Kavanaugh's nomination has been imperiled by accusations of sexual misconduct. He forcefully denied the allegations.

The Latest: Senate begins procedural vote on Kavanaugh

10:35 a.m.

The Senate has begun a procedural vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Several senators have not said how they will vote: Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Kavanaugh's nomination will need 51 votes to advance. If there's a tie, Vice President Pence is expected to cast the decisive vote in Kavanaugh's favor.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has pushed to get Kavanaugh confirmed this week, said he was "feeling good" ahead of the vote.

Senators have been wrestling with the findings of an FBI background investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. He forcefully denied the allegations.

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10:30 a.m.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says she will vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination in Friday's procedural vote.

Collins told reporters she is "voting yes on proceeding to the final confirmation vote" and will announce her decision on confirmation later Friday.

Collins was one of three Republicans seen as undecided on Kavanaugh's nomination.

Kavanaugh has denied allegations of sexual misconduct in high school and college.

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10:20 a.m.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says Republicans have only themselves to blame for the hurdles in Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. Schumer said Friday, "They have a flawed nominee."

The New York Democrat called it a "shameful culmination" of a process that started when Republicans refused to consider Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee for a seat on the court.

Schumer blamed Republicans' "scorched earth tactics" as they try to put conservatives on the bench.

Senators are poised to vote Friday to advance Kavanaugh's nomination ahead of a final confirmation vote over the weekend.

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10:14 a.m.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein says Brett Kavanaugh's testimony before the Judiciary Committee was "so shocking" it makes him unfit to serve on the Supreme Court.

The California Democrat said that the judge's behavior showed "a man filled with anger and aggression." She said that revealed a temperament and lack of impartiality that's unbecoming for the high court. She spoke on the Senate floor ahead of a Friday procedural vote.

Feinstein is the top Democrat on the committee and made her remarks as the Senate opened for a key test vote to advance Kavnaugh's nomination.

Feinstein says Kavanaugh has not "earned" his seat.

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10 a.m.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has urged his colleagues to say no to "mob rule" and vote to move Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination forward.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said on the Senate floor ahead of Friday's procedural vote, "This should have been a respectable and dignified confirmation process." He says in a previous era a nominee as highly qualified as Kavanaugh would have received unanimous support in the Senate.

Grassley says an FBI investigation "found no hint of misconduct" by Kavanaugh, who has denied a California college professor's allegations he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Grassley blames "left-wing outside groups" and "left-wing dark money" for trying to derail Kavanaugh's nomination. He says what they did to sully Kavanaugh's reputation was "nothing short of monstrous."

Democrats say Republicans have tried to rush the process.

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9:50 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he's "feeling good" ahead of a crucial Senate vote to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

McConnell made the short comment Friday to reporters as he walked to the Senate floor as the chamber opened.

Key GOP senators have not yet said their positions less than an hour before voting. McConnell has little room for error in the narrowly divided Senate with a 51-49 GOP majority. The Senate is set to vote at 10:30 a.m.

Republicans can rely on Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie, but that has never happened for a Supreme Court nominee, according to the Senate Historical Office.

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9:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump is criticizing female protesters who confronted senators over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Trump is calling them "paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad."

Trump tweeted Friday about the women flooding Capitol Hill to oppose Kavanaugh. Trump described the women as "rude elevator screamers" and said they have "professionally made identical signs."

The Senate will take a crucial vote Friday on whether to move Kavanaugh's nomination forward. The nominee has denied allegations of sexual misconduct from high school and college.

Senators have been confronted by protesters, some of whom who are members or paid staffers for activist groups. Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake was challenged by two women as he entered an elevator last week. Several women who identified themselves as sexual assault survivors approached Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah on Thursday and asked why he's backing Kavanaugh.

Hatch waved and told them to "grow up" as he entered an elevator.

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8:20 a.m.

The No. 2 Senate Democrat says an op-ed written by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on the eve of a Senate vote left him unconvinced that Kavanaugh is qualified for the court. Sen. Dick Durbin says he still believes Kavanaugh doesn't have the temperament and is too partisan.

The Illinois Democrat told CBS' "This Morning" on Friday that Kavanaugh's op-ed, in which he conceded being "very emotional" in his Senate testimony was unpersuasive.

Durbin says he understands that "this has to be a terrible ordeal" for Kavanaugh and his family, but adds: "The fire in his eyes when he turned into this partisan screed is something I'm not going to forget."

Kavanaugh has denied allegations of sexual assault by California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, calling them an orchestrated political hit. In an op-ed published Thursday evening in the Wall Street Journal, the 53-year-old judge acknowledged that he became "very emotional" during his Senate Judiciary testimony but is "hardworking" and "even-keeled."

The Senate is poised for a crucial vote Friday on whether to advance Kavanaugh's nomination. Key Republicans remain undecided.

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7:45 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, who helped broker a deal with Republican Sen. Jeff Flake that led to an expanded FBI background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, says he doesn't know how Flake or the other undecided senators will vote.

Coons, of Delaware, told ABC's "Good Morning America" Friday that his undecided friends are not returning his phone calls, "and that typically is a way a senator tells you they're busy deciding."

The Senate is poised to take a crucial vote Friday on whether to advance Kavanaugh's nomination amid his denials of allegations of sexual misconduct when he was in high school and college. Flake, of Arizona, and two other Republican senators have not announced how they'll vote. Neither has Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said on Fox News' "Fox & Friends" he doesn't yet know how the vote will come out but respects his fellow senators' decision to keep quiet as they consider what to do.

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1:45 a.m.

The Senate is taking a crucial vote Friday to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. Key GOP senators remain undecided amid allegations of sexual misconduct and intense protests dividing the nation.

The 53-year-old judge made what were in effect closing arguments by acknowledging that he became "very emotional" when forcefully denying the allegations at a Judiciary Committee hearing last week. But in an op-ed published Thursday he insists he remains the same "hardworking, even-keeled" person as always.

Tensions are high at the Capitol, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing ahead with little room for error. Republicans have a slim 51-49 hold on the Senate. A final vote is expected Saturday.

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