Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va on Friday said they intend to vote in favor of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation — two crucial votes that appear to secure Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court.
Moments after Collins spoke on the Senate floor announcing her intention to vote for the nominee, Manchin said in a statement he would also vote to confirm Kavanaugh as well. Manchin said while he had “reservations” due to sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh and his temperament, he said “I believe he will rule in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution.”
Collins said the confirmation had resembled a “caricature of a gutter-level political campaign” and criticized Democrats for announcing their opposition to Kavanaugh before his name was even announced. She also criticized outside groups for distorting Kavanaugh’s record and “over-the-top rhetoric.”
As she began her speech, she was interrupted by protesters urging her to vote “no.” The Senate was flooded by protesters in the days leading up to the vote, with activists hounding Republicans and urging them to vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, citing decades-old sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. Protesters also yelled “shame” at Manchin after his statement.
Collins dismissed claims that Kavanaugh would be a partisan judge, noted he had ruled in favor of parts of ObamaCare and ruled against a Bush-era terror conviction. She also said she was assured that Kavanaugh would not overturn Roe v Wade — the 1973 decision that found a constitutional right to abortion. She also rejected concerns by Democrats about his temperament and that he was out of the judicial mainstream.
Collins, who told Fox News that she made her decision on Thursday evening, officially made her announcement on the floor of the Senate Friday, hours after the chamber voted 51-49 to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to a final vote on Saturday evening. Collins was one of four key undecided senators who were closely watched for how they would vote. Collins — along with Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voted to invoke cloture on the nomination earlier Friday. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted “no,” in a move suggesting she may vote against Kavanaugh on Saturday. Flake had suggested he would vote “yes” for Kavanaugh “unless something big changes.”
With a 51-49 majority in the Senate, Republicans can’t afford more than one defection if all Democrats were to vote together, but Manchin’s “yes” gives the Republicans a cushion. If Collins, Manchin and Flake vote “aye” and Murkowski votes “nay” that would give Kavanaugh 51 votes. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., may be absent as he is attending his daughter’s wedding on Saturday. Were that the case, it would be 50-49, which would be enough to confirm Kavanaugh without a tie-breaking vote needing to be cast by Vice President Mike Pence.
Meanwhile, a source familiar with the confirmation process told Fox News that Manchin called to notify the White House that he was a “yes” for Kavanaugh. But White House officials learned of Collins’ decision to support Kavanaugh in real time.
At this point, White House officials are assuming that Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will remain a “no” during Saturday’s confirmation vote.