Senate advances Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination

WASHINGTON ― The Senate held a procedural vote on Friday that puts Brett Kavanaugh one step closer to being confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Senators voted to officially end debate on Kavanaugh’s confirmation and begin counting down to the final vote, tentatively set for 4:30 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

While the “cloture” vote is just a procedural step, it’s the first time the full Senate has voted on Kavanaugh. It offers a little insight into how wavering senators feel about advancing his nomination, though senators could potentially vote no for the final confirmation after voting yes in the procedural vote.

Four senators still haven’t said how they’ll vote ― Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Three of the four would need to vote no to block the confirmation. 

Murkowski voted no on the procedural vote; Flake, Collins and Manchin voted yes. 

Collins said she will announce if she intends to vote for Kavanaugh in a speech on the Senate floor at 3 p.m. Eastern time Friday. Manchin said Friday he would not speak about his decision until the final vote occurs.

Since Christine Blasey Ford came forward last month to accuse Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were high school students in the 1980s, the nomination has effectively become a referendum on whether senators believe Ford or Kavanaugh. He has denied her allegations, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct from two other women.

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Activists hold a protest and rally in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh outside the court in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Activists rally inside the Senate Hart Office Building during a protest in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and in support for Christine Blasey Ford, the university professor who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 1982, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Activists hold a protest and rally in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A woman thrusts her fist in support of activists rallying inside the Senate Hart Office Building during a protest in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and in support of Christine Blasey Ford, the university professor who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 1982, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS//Mary F. Calvert
Activists protest and rally in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh outside the court in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Protesters demonstrate against Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Activists hold a protest and rally in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and in support for Christine Blasey Ford, the university professor who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 1982, in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A demonstrator sits on the ground during a protest and rally in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Workers and onlookers watch as activists rally inside the Senate Hart Office Building during a protest in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and in support for Christine Blasey Ford, the university professor who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 1982, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Activists rally inside the Senate Hart Office Building during a protest in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Activists hold a protest and rally in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Activists rally inside the Senate Hart Office Building during a protest in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and in support for Christine Blasey Ford, the university professor who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 1982, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Activists hold a protest and rally in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Activists hold a protest march and rally in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Activists protest and rally in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh outside the court in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Activists march during a rally in opposition to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in Washington, U.S., October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04: Demonstrators wait in-line to enter Hart Senate Office Building for a protest against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh October 4, 2018 at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Senators had an opportunity to review a new FBI background investigation into accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh and Republican leaders are moving to have a vote on his confirmation this weekend. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Protesters occupy the Senate Hart building during a rally against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on October 4, 2018. - Top Republicans voiced confidence Thursday that Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the US Supreme Court this weekend, as they asserted that an FBI probe had found nothing to support sex assault allegations against Donald Trump's nominee.'Judge Kavanaugh should be confirmed on Saturday,' Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A protester holds up a sign in the Senate Hart building during a rally against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on October 4, 2018. - Top Republicans voiced confidence Thursday that Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the US Supreme Court this weekend, as they asserted that an FBI probe had found nothing to support sex assault allegations against Donald Trump's nominee.'Judge Kavanaugh should be confirmed on Saturday,' Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04: Protesters chant their support for fellow demonstrators who are being arrested by U.S. Capitol Police for protesting against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building October 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Senators had an opportunity to review a new FBI background investigation into accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh and Republican leaders are moving to have a vote on his confirmation this weekend. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04: (L to R) Bob Bland, Co-President, Women's March; model and actress Emily Ratajkowski and actress and comedian Amy Schumer attend the Brett Kavanaugh U.S. Supreme Court Confirmation Protest in front of the Supreme Court on October 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
A protester opposed to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh holds a sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. Senate Republicans pushed toward a make-or-break test vote on Kavanaugh as key GOP holdouts Jeff Flake and Susan Collins said an FBI investigation prompted by sexual misconduct allegations against him appeared to be thorough. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Demonstrators protest US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in front of the Supreme Court on October 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. - A new FBI investigation into Kavanaugh found nothing to corroborate sexual assault allegations against US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, US Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Thursday. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protest US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh near the US Capitol on October 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. - A new FBI investigation into Kavanaugh found nothing to corroborate sexual assault allegations against US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, US Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Thursday. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protest US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in front of the Supreme Court on October 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. - A new FBI investigation into Kavanaugh found nothing to corroborate sexual assault allegations against US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, US Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Thursday. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protest US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in front of the Supreme Court on October 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. - A new FBI investigation into Kavanaugh found nothing to corroborate sexual assault allegations against US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, US Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Thursday. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protest US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in front of the Supreme Court on October 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. - A new FBI investigation into Kavanaugh found nothing to corroborate sexual assault allegations against US President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, US Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Thursday. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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Ford testified about her memory of the assault last week and, because of a last-minute request by Flake, Republicans postponed Senate votes to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation more time to investigate Ford’s claim. The FBI wrapped up its investigation late Wednesday, prompting Democrats to complain that the bureau hadn’t interviewed enough people with relevant information, such as Ford’s friends she’d previously told about the assault.

“I think I’ve made my case as best I could,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who teamed up with Flake to make the FBI probe happen. “The materials are what they are, and it is now left to senators to reach their conclusions. I do not think we’ve done as thorough and fulsome a job of assessing the facts and the allegations as we should have.”

Because of the terms of a previous agreement between the Obama White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee, only senators and a limited number of staffers were allowed to see the FBI’s report. They weren’t allowed to disclose any of its contents.

Almost all Republicans argued that the FBI report provided “no corroboration” of Ford’s claims, but at least one Democratic senator, Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), disputed that.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said he wished everyone could read the report. “There are things in here that really make me angry.”

Paige Lavender contributed to this report.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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