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Kavanaugh Nomination Clears Procedural Hurdle, Heads To Final Vote


Federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court narrowly cleared a key procedural hurdle Friday morning, setting up a final vote on his confirmation as early as this weekend.

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.

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

Publicly undecided Republican Senators Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, voted in favor of the motion to cut off debate, although Collins said she will not reveal whether she will support Kavanaugh in the final vote until this afternoon.

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!"

If the procedural vote was successful, the final vote to confirm Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court had been expected to be held as early as Saturday.

However, the timing of the vote could be impacted by Republican Senator Steve Daines', R-Mont., absence on Saturday to attend his daughter's wedding.

The procedural vote on Friday came following several dramatic twists and turns in the confirmation process after Dr. Christine Blasey 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.

With the procedural vote now in the rearview mirror, all eyes will be on Collins' announcement this afternoon as well as any indications Manchin will change his stance in the final vote.

Kavanaugh will need support from 50 Senators to be confirmed with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence.

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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