Susan Collins will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

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Announcements by Republican Susan Collins of ME and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia that they'll support the conservative jurist made Saturday's confirmation vote a formality, an anticlimactic finale to a battle that riveted the nation for almost a month.

Demonstrators gather outside the Senate office of Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, the lone Republican to vote against advancing Kavanaugh's nomination on Friday.

In the pivotal moment Friday, Collins, perhaps the chamber's most moderate Republican, proclaimed her support for Kavanaugh at the end of a Senate floor speech that lasted almost 45 minutes.

Collins announced on the Senate floor Friday afternoon that she would support Kavanaugh's confirmation, which essentially ensured his confirmation would succeed in when the final vote takes place. Every voting Republican backed the 53-year-old conservative judge.

Noisy to the end, the Senate battle featured a call of the roll that was interrupted several times by protesters shouting in the spectators' gallery before Capitol Police removed them. President Donald Trump cheered the result of the cloture vote, which puts him a key step closer to a major political victory for conservatives. As of Friday night, she appears to be the only Republican who will vote against the judge.

Vice President Mike Pence planned to be available on Saturday in case his tie-breaking vote was needed.

On Friday, Sen. Jeff Flake, the Republican who stalled Kavanaugh's nomination process by wielding his leverage to call for the Federal Bureau of Investigation review, announced he would vote for Kavanaugh unless something major changes before Saturday.

US Senate poised to confirm Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh
She said: "Thank you, Senator Collins , for standing by your convictions and doing the right thing to confirm Judge Kavanaugh". John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the GOP leadership, said he would be "very surprised" if Murkowski switches her vote.

"At the Senate hearings on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, the Honorable Brett Kavanaugh displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land", the letter reads. And they have questioned whether Kavanaugh was truthful in his testimony about a number of issues, including his drinking habits, before the Judiciary Committee.

Rice tweeted a little later that she was "not making any announcements" but was "deeply disappointed" by Collins' vote. But she said his actions Friday - the closed office, a "yes" in a preliminary vote and his plan to vote yes Saturday - made it increasingly hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. Protesters have roamed Capitol Hill corridors and grounds daily, chanting, "November is coming", "Vote them out" and "We believe survivors".

Kavanaugh was accused by Christine Blasey Ford of committing sexual and physical assault more than 30 years ago when they were at a party during their high school years. On that same day, two of the three swing Republican senators - Maine's Susan Collins and Arizona's Jeff Flake - praised the thoroughness of the recently concluded FBI investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.

When Mr Trump nominated Mr Kavanaugh in July, Democrats leapt to oppose him, saying that past statements and opinions showed he'd be a threat to the Roe v Wade case that assured the right to abortion.

Two other women also made accusations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh in the 1980s.

Under pressure from wavering Republicans, GOP leaders agreed to an extraordinary Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week that mesmerized the nation as Ford nervously recounted her story and said she was "100 per cent" certain that Kavanaugh was her attacker.