WASHINGTON, D.C. — A deeply divided Senate pushed Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination past a key procedural hurdle Friday, setting up a likely final showdown this weekend.
- Brett Kavanaugh advancd in 51-49 vote
- Final confirmation vote could be this weekend
- Kavanaugh has denied sexual assault allegations
- RELATED: Understanding the Silence: Why Sexual Assault Victims Take Years To Come Forward
The Senate voted 51-49 to limit debate, effectively defeating Democratic efforts to scuttle the nomination with endless delays. With Republicans clinging to a two-vote majority, one Republican voted to stop the nomination, one Democrat to send it further.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the moderate senators being watched for her vote, says she would vote to advance Kavanaugh.
Collins took the floor Friday afternoon.
She says the Kavanaugh process has been "more like a caricature of a gutter level political campaign than a solemn occasion."
On Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Collins said: "I found her testimony to be sincere, painful and compelling. I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life."
Collins confirmed Friday afternoon that she will vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee wrote an op-ed in Friday morning's Wall Street Journal, describing himself as an "Independent, impartial judge" and admits he "might have been too emotional" during his testimony last week.
He and Ford appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee separately. She had accused him of sexual assault during a party decades ago when they were in high school.
Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegations.
But his testimony last week swayed at least one person, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who says the nominee should be disqualified.
Of the four lawmakers who had not revealed their decisions until Friday, Republican Sens. Collins and Jeff Flake of Arizona voted yes, as did Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted not to send the nomination to the full Senate.
Lawmakers might vote differently on the climactic confirmation roll call, and Collins told reporters that she wouldn’t rule out doing so. 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. Confirmation would be a crowning achievement for Trump, his conservative base and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The vote occurred a day after the Senate received a roughly 50-page FBI report on the sexual assault allegations, which Trump ordered only after wavering GOP senators forced him to do so.
Republicans said the secret document — which described interviews agents conducted with 10 witnesses — failed to find anyone who could corroborate allegations by his two chief accusers, Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Democrats belittled the bureau’s findings, saying agents constrained by the White House hadn’t reached out to numerous other people with potentially important information.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.