Senators advance Kavanaugh nomination to final vote 51-49

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Still, Murkowski told reporters she has still not made up her mind. Big day for America!

"The allegations against Brett Kavanaugh have not been adequately investigated", said Nicole Austin-Hillery, US program director at Human Rights Watch.

"As of now, I don't really know, and I don't know if anyone else does", Grassley, who presided over Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings, said during an appearance on "Fox & Friends" on Fox News. "I hope we can say no to mob rule by voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh".

Ford's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was broadcast live on television last Thursday and captured the attention of some 20 million people watching on broadcast and cable networks.

"At that time, I thought (Kavanaugh) had the qualifications for the Supreme Court should he be selected", former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said at a Florida event on Thursday.

In the vote on Gorsuch past year, the cloture and final confirmation votes lined up perfectly (with the exception of one Republican senator who missed the final vote for health reasons).

Two other undecided Republicans, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of ME, both considered moderate, went with the party, giving it a 51-49 victory to advance the matter to a final vote on Saturday.

Putting Kavanaugh on the court would give Republicans a victory just weeks before the November 6 election, in which Democrats have a chance to win control of the House and are making a longer shot bid for a Senate majority.

The announcements by Republican Susan Collins of ME and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia ended most of the suspense over a political battle that has transfixed the nation - though die-hard Democrats insisted on arguing through the night to a mostly empty Senate chamber.

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Manchin says he has reservations because of the sexual misconduct accusations against Kavanaugh and the judge's temperament in denying them.

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"We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy", said Collins, perhaps the chamber's most moderate Republican.

Trump weighed in shortly after the roll call was announced, tweeting, "Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting "YES" to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!".

The FBI interviewed nine people and reached out to ten, speaking to people including those identified by Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades ago. Capitol police also later threatened to clear a public hallway outside her office in the Dirksen Senate Office Building and physically blocked reporters from approaching Collins as she left the office to return to the Capitol for a vote. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) as the only Democrat yet to announce his position.

Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines is due to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding on Saturday, a scheduling conflict that could affect his vote. She said that Kavanaugh was a "man filled with anger and aggression" at last week's Senate hearing.

Ford testified about her memory of the assault last week and, because of a last-minute request by Flake, Republicans postponed Senate votes to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation more time to investigate Ford's claim.

Republicans can afford to lose one "yes" vote, leaving the tally deadlocked at 50-50, because Vice President Mike Pence would step in to break the tie in the GOP's favor.

Collins said as soon as President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh on July 9, within moments "special interest groups raced to be the first to oppose him". Two other women later emerged with sexual misconduct allegations from the 1980s, all of which Kavanaugh has denied. They also sought to paint him as a justice that would swing the court deeply to the right.