Friday morning, the U.S. Senate will take a significant step in the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. At approximately 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, the Senate will have a cloture vote, meaning they will decide whether or not to end debate regarding Kavanaugh’s nomination, after weeks of hearings and an FBI investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct. If a majority of the votes go in Kavanaugh’s favor, all that will be left is the final confirmation vote.
Until recently, it took a supermajority of 60 votes in order to stop a filibuster and end debate over a Supreme Court nominee. That changed in 2017 when Senate Republicans voted to change the rules in order to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch. Now, it only takes a simply majority of 51, or a 50-50 split with Vice President Mike Pence as the tie-breaker. Democrats had previously made a similar rule change during the Obama administration in order to confirm judges to lower courts.
It remains to be seen whether Republicans will have enough votes to successfully end the delays in the confirmation process. Senators from both parties had been on the fence in recent days, although some have hinted that they have made up their minds. One week ago, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), voted to move Kavanaugh’s nomination forward while calling for an FBI investigation prior to any votes on the Senate floor. That investigation has since taken place, and Flake has stated that he did not believe it provided any new information to corroborate the allegations against Kavanaugh. Time will tell whether that belief will translate into a vote for the nominee.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has also stated that she felt the investigation was thorough, despite Democrats’ claims to the contrary. She and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) had previously expressed reservations about the conservative Kavanaugh, indicating that they were concerned about whether he might potentially vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. After speaking with the nominee, however, both have reportedly said they are satisfied with Kavanaugh when it comes to that issue.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) had been on the fence, but recently told WDAY that she would vote no.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) remains a mystery. Protesters confronted him on Thursday, with some being arrested. Manchin addressed a protester who accused him of planning to vote for Kavanaugh, saying, “How do you know I’m going to?”
If Friday’s vote goes in Kavanaugh’s favor, the final vote on his confirmation would likely take place Saturday afternoon.
[Image via via SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]