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Kavanaugh Confirmation Nearly Guaranteed After Collins, Manchin Express Support

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Virtually guaranteeing Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court, Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., announced their support for the federal appeals court judge's nomination on Friday.

A moderate Republican, Collins announced she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh in a highly anticipated speech on the Senate floor.

With the announcement from Collins giving Republicans the 50 votes needed, Manchin subsequently revealed he will likely be the lone Democrat to vote in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Collins noted the broad discretion given to presidents in choosing their Supreme Court nominees and referenced her past support for nominees by presidents from both parties.

Citing opinions and comments by Kavanaugh, Collins also dismissed concerns about the judge's views on issues such as Obamacare, presidential power, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights.

The Republican Senator also said she believes Kavanaugh accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is a survivor of sexual assault but argued that without corroboration, her allegations do not meet the threshold of "more likely than not."

The announcements by Collins and Manchin came after previously undecided Republican Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., also indicated he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Earlier in the day, the Senate voted 51 to 49 in favor of a motion to cut off debate on Kavanaugh's nomination, with the vote largely coming down along party lines.

Manchin was the lone Democrat to vote in favor of advancing Kavanaugh's nomination, while Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted against the motion.

In a post on Twitter following the vote, President Donald Trump said, "Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting 'YES' to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!"

With the success of the procedural vote and the announcements by Flake, Collins, and Manchin, a final vote to confirm Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court could be held as early as Saturday.

Republican Senator Steve Daines, R-Mont., will be absent on Saturday to attend his daughter's wedding, but unless a Senator has a last-minute change of heart, Kavanaugh could be confirmed with a 50 to 49 vote.

The developments on Friday came following several dramatic twists and turns in the confirmation process after Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assaulting her when they were both in high school.

Ford and Kavanaugh both gave emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, with Kavanaugh categorically denying Ford's allegations.

Kavanaugh received both praise and criticism for his fiery testimony, as he lashed out at the Democratic members of the committee and slammed his confirmation process as a "national disgrace."

In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Kavanaugh claimed his "forceful and passionate" testimony reflected his "overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused" as well as his "deep distress at the unfairness of how this allegation has been handled."

"I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times," Kavanaugh wrote. "I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad."

Kavanaugh rejected arguments that his attacks on Democrats and liberals during his testimony would prevent him from being an independent and impartial Supreme Court justice.

However, critics have pointed out that some of Kavanaugh's harshest attacks were contained in his prepared statement.

The votes on Kavanaugh's nomination were delayed last week after undecided Senators indicated they would withhold their support for the Supreme Court nominee without a new FBI investigation of sexual misconduct allegations.

Republicans claim the FBI investigation turned up zero corroboration for the allegations against Kavanaugh, while Democrats have criticized the limited scope of the probe.

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