Friday, October 5, the Senate Voted 51-49 on a cloture vote to move forward Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. This vote ends debate on the nomination and sets the final vote for Saturday, October 6. While this vote is strictly procedural, it would be highly unlikely for senators to change their votes between this cloture motion and Saturday’s vote on the nomination itself.
Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) joined the yeas and had been undecided going into the vote. Joe Manchin (D-WV) who is facing a challenging re-election campaign, was the only Democrat to vote for Kavanaugh. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was also undecided but joined Democrats in voting no.
Under the Standing Rules of the Senate, a majority of senators present and voting is required to invoke cloture. If successful, there will be up to 30 hours of debate on the nomination prior to a vote on confirmation.
As they took to the floor to advance their positions, the Senators spent their time denigrating their colleagues, and either denigrating or buoying Brett Kavanaugh, depending on party affiliation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “before the ink was dry on Justice Kennedy’s resignation,” Democrats announced and implemented their plan for delay, destruction, “and so-called resistance.” He went on to detail many of the outrageous statements and sentiments of his Democrat Senate colleagues. Calling the vote a pivotal moment for the Senate, McConnell said it offered an opportunity to show the American people that they “remain unfettered by the partisan passion of the moment.” President Trump was quick to congratulate the Senate:
Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting “YES” to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2018
The rules once required a 60-vote supermajority to invoke cloture and force a vote on nominees. Senate Democrats, led by Harry Reid (D-NV), eliminated that rule for all appointments except the Supreme Court in 2013. Then, in 2017, Senate Republicans eliminated the requirement for the Supreme Court nominees to defeat the filibuster of the Neil Gorsuch nomination. On April 7, 2017, the Senate confirmed Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court with a 54–45 vote, with three Democrats joining the Republicans.