To the wire

Kavanaugh takes step closer to Supreme Court as Senate tips 51-49 in razor-thin vote

The Senate voted 51-49 to limit debate on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday, setting the stage for a likely final confirmation vote on his candidacy this weekend. With Republicans holding a two-vote majority, Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, were the only senators to vote against party lines, with Manchin supporting moving the nomination process forward and Murkowski voting against. The contentious vote occurred just a day after the conclusion of a weeklong FBI investigation into allegations that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey in 1982 and exposed himself to Deborah Ramirez in 1983. Republicans had claimed that the FBI’s findings showed no corroboration of the accusations against the embattled judge, while Democrats said that agents, constrained by the White House, had failed to interview numerous people — including Ford and Kavanaugh — with information pertinent to the allegations.

Ahead of Friday’s vote, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, told his fellow congressmen that “what left wing groups and their Democratic allies have done to Judge Kavanaugh is nothing short of monstrous,” accusing his liberal adversaries of supporting “mob rule.” Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s top Democrat, also spoke, saying that Kavanaugh’s “hostility and belligerence” during the Judiciary Committee panel hearing should “worry us all.” During that hearing, Kavanaugh had denied the allegations against him and suggested that the accusations were fabrications concocted by Democrats in order to sabotage his career. He also repeatedly professed his affinity for beer.

Following the vote, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Maine, a key swing vote in the Senate, said that while she had voted to continue the nomination process, that didn’t necessarily mean that she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. For the confirmation vote, it is likely that Murkowski and Collins will cast key swing votes to determine the final result — and potentially shape the future of the Supreme Court and abortion rights for decades to come.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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