The Senate on Friday finally concluded weeks of contentious debate over President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, voting 51-49 to conclude debate and setting up a Saturday vote on his confirmation.
Among the wavering Republicans who voted yes were Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia also voted yes. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted against moving Kavanaugh's nomination to a full Senate vote.
It is still unclear on how Collins will vote on the full confirmation. "I will be voting yes on proceeding to the final confirmation vote and I will announce my intentions on how to vote later today," she told reporters on Friday.
Before the cloture vote, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Kavanaugh's nomination was un-American. "The well was poisoned from the outset," Schumer said. He claimed Republicans, not Democrats, delayed the process. "I don't blame them. They have a flawed nominee," Schumer said.
An angry Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican and head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor that "the fix was in from the very beginning." "What left wing groups and their Democratic allies have done to judge Brett Kavanaugh is nothing short of monstrous," he said.
Now that senators have voted to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination, they will have to allow another 30 hours for procedural debate, putting the final vote in mid-afternoon on Saturday.
In another odd twist, Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines said he plans to attend his daughter's wedding on Saturday and might not be available to vote then.
Republicans can afford to lose one "yes" vote, leaving the tally deadlocked at 50-50, because Vice President Mike Pence would step in to break the tie in the GOP's favor.
"This is all going to work out," Daines told reporters Friday morning at the Capitol. "We’re going to have a new Supreme Court justice this weekend and I’m going to get to walk my daughter down the aisle."