(Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court will hinge on the votes of a handful of senators.
Senate Judiciary Committee meets to vote on the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, U.S., September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert
Two senators who had been seen as swing votes announced their intentions on Friday with Republican Jeff Flake, who is in his last term, saying he will support the nominee. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat up for re-election this year in the red-leaning state of Indiana, said he would vote against Kavanaugh.
The nomination was headed for a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee after dramatic testimony over almost nine hours on Thursday from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school.
The nomination, if approved, would cement conservative control of the nation’s highest court and advance Trump’s effort to push it and America’s judiciary to the right. Most Democrats opposed Kavanaugh and are trying to block him.
After the committee acts, the nomination will go before the full Senate, controlled 51-49 by Republicans. Here are the swing votes that likely will decide if Kavanaugh is confirmed.
– Susan Collins. A moderate who sometimes breaks from party ranks, Collins has said that if Kavanaugh lied about allegations of sexual misconduct, “that would be disqualifying.”
– Lisa Murkowski. An occasional party renegade, she has not said how she will vote. Murkowski met privately late on Thursday with Collins, Flake and Democrat Joe Manchin. Earlier in the day she told Reuters: “I find Dr. Ford’s testimony to be credible.”
– Heidi Heitkamp. Facing a re-election campaign in North Dakota, a heavily pro-Trump state, she had called for further investigation of Ford’s allegations.
– Joe Manchin. Also up for re-election in the pro-Trump state of West Virginia, he met with Republicans late Thursday.
– Doug Jones. The first Democratic senator elected from Alabama in more than 20 years, he must show he can be independent-minded to stay in office. The Kavanaugh vote could be a test.
Reporting by Richard Cowan, Amanda Becker and Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Bill Trott and Alistair Bell