After nine hours of emotionally charged testimony that included a credible report of sexual assault, Republicans moved Thursday to ram through Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, with a quick Committee vote on whether to progress his nomination to the Supreme Court.
Speaking to reporters after a closed-door meeting of GOP senators late on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said the Senate Judiciary Committee will push forward Friday with a vote on whether Kavanaugh should advance.
Leading Republicans, including President Donald Trump, are keen to confirm Kavanaugh quickly, after what they view as a last-minute coordinated attack on their nominee by the Democrats.
In a Thursday tweet, Trump put his full support behind Kavanaugh, calling his testimony “powerful, honest, and riveting,” while failing to mention his accuser Christine Blasey Ford.
If a scheduled 1:30 a.m. vote does take place, the outcome is far from certain.
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, of Arizona, reportedly still undecided after Thursday’s hearing. With 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats on the Committee, Flake’s vote is critical.
Should the vote pass, Republicans plan to hold a procedural vote on the Senate floor at noon Saturday, with an official vote taking place early next week.
Republicans hold the chamber by a slim margin of 51 to 49, and GOP leaders are worried about the votes of Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine).
There are also undecideds on the Democratic side, including Sen. Joe Donnelly (Indiana) and Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) — both of whom face tough re-election bids in states that voted strongly for Trump in 2016.
Manchin met with the three undecided GOP senators Thursday, but it was unclear if they came to a consensus.
Vice President Mike Pence will be called to cast a deciding vote if the result is tied.
While Senate Republicans move ahead with Kavanaugh, many people and institutions are calling for a delay to allow for a fuller investigation into Ford’s allegations, among them several women who have come forward in the last week to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
Those calling for a delay include the American Bar Association:
“We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” the group said in a letter to the committee. “Each appointment to our nation’s highest court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote.”
Also calling for a delay was Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who wrote in a Fox News opinion piece that “right now there are too many unanswered question[s] to bring the confirmation of Kavanaugh [to] a vote of the Judiciary Committee as scheduled on Friday, much less to a vote of the full Senate.”
In an editorial published after the hearing, the Catholic America Magazine announced it was withdrawing its support for Kavanaugh, saying that even if Ford’s allegation is unfounded, “we recognize that this nomination is no longer in the best interests of the country.”
Another impact of the hearing was a spike in calls to helplines for those affected by sexual assault. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) said it had seen a jump of 147 percent in the number of calls after Blasey Ford’s testimony.
Others flooded the lines of C-SPAN to either discredit or defend the allegations made by Ford, with a split-screen juxtaposing the live testimony with the stories of sexual assaults from callers.
Cover image: Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., September 27, 2018. (Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS)