The US Senate has approved moving to a final vote on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The Senate voted 51-49 on Friday October 5th to approve the nomination despite allegations of sexual misconduct dating back to his teenage years. A final vote is planned for later this weekend.
President Trump immediately welcomed the vote, which puts him a key step closer to a major political victory for conservatives. "Very proud of the US Senate for voting 'YES' to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!" Trump tweeted.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Friday morning that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will "completely reshape the judiciary" once he's confirmed by the Senate.
The vote to limit debate effectively defeated Democratic efforts to scuttle the nomination with endless delays and brings nearer the climax of a fight that has captivated the country since the summer.
With Republicans controlling the Senate 51-49, one Republican voted to stop the nomination, one Democrat to approve it. Of the four senators who had not revealed their decisions until Friday — all moderates — Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona voted yes, as did Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted not to move the nomination ahead.
In fact, the senators can vote differently on the final confirmation roll call, as Senator Susan Collins told reporters she would announce her decision later on Friday. That left unclear whether Friday's tally signaled that the 53-year-old federal appellate judge was on his way to the nation's highest court, though it would be unusual for lawmakers to switch their votes on such a high-profile issue.
Friday’s vote came amid large-scale protests against Kavanaugh's nomination that have swept Capitol Hill in the last two weeks. Trump took aim on Friday morning at protesters who targeted Flake last week ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee's vote to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate.
So what happens next after this vote? First comes as many as 30 hours of debate in the chamber, a time limited by the Senate’s own procedural rulebook. After that, the republican-led Senate is expected to hold a vote by roll call, on either Saturday or possibly Sunday, when the full assembly will announce its collective position on whether to send Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, thousands of anti-Kavanaugh protesters rallied outside the Supreme Court and entered a Senate office building, holding signs such as "Believe Survivors" and "Kava-Nope." Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested including actress Amy Schumer.
Trump's decision to nominate Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court has become a big controversy, as allegations of sexual assault against the judge came to light last month. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward to claim that Kavanaugh once attempted to rape her at a party when the two were in high school. Kavanaugh denied the claims and the two sat in front of a Senate committee hearing and gave statements, as well as answering questions about the alleged encounter.