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Susan Collins Will Vote ‘Yes’ on Kavanaugh, Nearly Solidifying His Supreme Court Seat

The long-undecided senator from Maine announced her decision Friday afternoon before the Senate

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is followed by members of the media as she walks to the Capitol before a vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill, in WashingtonSupreme Court Kavanaugh, Washington, USA - 05 Oct 2018

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is followed by members of the media as she walks to the Capitol before a vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/REX Shutterstock

UPDATE: Following the conclusion of Collins’ speech before the Senate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) released a statement confirming that he will be the only Democratic senator to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “I believe he will rule in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution,” the statement said.

With Manchin now a ‘yes,’ Kavanaugh is expected to be confirmed on Saturday by a vote of 51-49 (or 50-49 if Montana Sen. Steve Daines is absent). Original post below.

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, virtually confirming a seat on the nation’s highest court for the controversial nominee. She announced her decision Friday afternoon before the Senate. “Mr. President, I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” Collins said at the end of a lengthy speech in which she defended Kavanaugh’s judicial record while arguing that the sexual assault allegations should not prevent him from serving on the Supreme Court. “We will be ill served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting as it may be,” she said.

Collins had been part of a small group of senators who remained undecided about whether to vote for Kavanaugh in the wake of multiple sexual assault allegations and mounting concern over his temperament, partisanship and truthfulness under oath. Earlier on Friday, Collins voted to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination, as did her fellow fence-sitters Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Joe Machin (D-WV).

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was the lone Republican to vote against moving the nomination forward.

Shortly after the cloture vote, Alex Moe of NBC News reported that Flake plans to vote to confirm Kavanaugh on Saturday, when the final confirmation vote is scheduled to take place. The Associated Press later confirmed Moe’s report, noting that Flake is a yes “unless something big changes.”

With Flake and Collins both voting for Kavanaugh, his confirmation is assured barring an unexpected Republican having a change of heart. Even if Manchin and Murkowski — who has implied that she will break from her party and vote against Kavanaugh on Saturday — vote no, Republicans would still have enough votes to put him on the court.

That appeared to be a challenge on Thursday when Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) announced he would not be present for a Saturday confirmation vote, as he was heading to Montana for his daughter’s wedding. With Daines absent, Kavanaugh’s supporters would not have been able to afford losing both Murkowski and Manchin. On Thursday night, however, his spokesman said that Daines spoke to Kavanaugh over the phone and assured him “he has made arrangements to be [in Washington] to get him across the finish line as needed.” With Daines, Collins and Flake locked in, the vote would be split 50-50. Vice President Mike Pence would then break the tie.

According to John Roberts of Fox News, however, Daines probably isn’t going to need to rush back to Washington. On Friday morning, he reported that the White House expects Saturday’s confirmation vote to mirror the cloture vote, meaning they believe Manchin will vote to confirm Kavanaugh, as well. If he does, Kavanaugh would have 50 votes even with Daines absent.

Saturday’s vote will mark the end of one of the most fraught Supreme Court confirmation processes in the nation’s history. Kavanaugh and the Republican leadership were able to ward off multiple credible allegations of sexual assault; a mountain of evidence that the nominee lied under oath on several occasions; and significant reservations throughout the legal community — from professors, to the American Bar Association, to a former Republican justice — stemming from Kavanaugh’s disrespectful, partisan behavior at last week’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Overshadowed by the recent sexual assault allegations and their fallout has been concern that Kavanaugh could vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, restrict voting rights and protect President Trump from potential legal jeopardy.

For those worried that Kavanaugh’s position on the court will threaten women’s rights for decades to come, please try to take solace in the fact that Steve Daines will now be able to enjoy his daughter’s wedding in Montana unfettered. Cheers.

This post has been updated.

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