The Senate is scheduled for another vote on Saturday — here's where key swing-vote senators like Jeff Flake and Susan Collins stand

By Maura Hohman
October 05, 2018 03:03 PM
Susan Collins
Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On Friday, the Senate voted 51-49 to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to final vote, expected to take place on Saturday, after no more than 30 hours of floor debate.

With most Republicans in favor of confirming the judge and most Democrats against as of this afternoon, there were only a handful of swing senators who will determine Kavanaugh’s fate and they have now all made it clear which direction their votes will go. Here is where the swing senators stand.

After voting to advance Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the full Senate, swing-vote Senator Susan Collins of Maine delivered a lengthy speech Friday afternoon revealing her intention to vote yes to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday.

Collins was effusive in praising Kavanaugh’s qualifications for the position, but also conceded the complicated nature of the decision, voicing her support for the #MeToo movement and stating that she believes his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, was in fact assaulted. Collins suggested, however, that she did not believe Ford was assaulted by Kavanaugh. (Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.)

“Our Supreme Court confirmation process has been in steady decline for more than 30 years. One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom,” Collins said during her speech on Capitol Hill. “I understand both viewpoints… But certain fundamental legal principles about due process, the presumption of innocence and fairness do bare on my thinking and I cannot abandon them.”

Of Ford, Collins said, “I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life. Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering where she says the assault occurred. … Fairness would dictate that the claims at least should meet a threshold of more likely than not as our standard. The facts presented do not meet that precedent. … Therefore, I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court.”

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has said he will vote to confirm Kavanaugh on Saturday unless new information from the FBI investigation emerges beforehand. According to NBC’s Alex Moe, Flake “doesn’t see what would change. Says was a hard decision for everybody.”

Jeff Flake

After voting against moving Kavanaugh’s nomination forward on Friday morning, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she believes Kavanaugh “is a good man” but was “not the right man for the court,” Politico reported.

Late Friday, she confirmed that she will be the sole GOP senator to oppose his nomination saying she has a high standard for the Supreme Court Bench.

“After the hearing that we all watched last week, last Thursday, it became clear to me — or was becoming clearer — that that appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable,” she said.

Lisa Murkowski
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Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a key Democrat in a red state, announced Thursday night that she’d vote against Kavanaugh both Friday and Saturday. “After doing my due diligence and now that the record is apparently closed, I will vote against his confirmation,” she told a local ABC affiliate. She added in a statement on Twitter that she took issue with his temperament and that she believes “Dr. Ford had nothing to gain and everything to lose by coming forward with her deeply personal story.”

The only Democrat to vote in favor of Kavanaugh, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia shocked the public when he voted yes in Friday morning’s cloture vote, helping advance Kavanaugh to a final confirmation vote.

“I have reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing. And my heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life,” Manchin wrote in a statement. “However, based on all of the information I have available to me, including the recently completed FBI report, I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him.”

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After Thursday’s hearings, where Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — one of three women to accuse him of sexual misconduct — testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, President Donald Trump called for an FBI investigation into his nominee. (Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.)

After a week of interviews and other research — which critics have called inadequate — the FBI submitted its report early Thursday. The Senate then deliberated, deciding on a cloture vote on Friday morning, which Kavanaugh narrowly passed.