Republican senators will proceed today (Sept. 28) with a scheduled Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the US Supreme Court, a day after an emotionally charged hearing reinforced the country’s split down partisan lines.
The vote gives senators on the committee little time to consider the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and Kavanaugh’s response to her accusations.
The 21-member committee was originally scheduled to decide on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Sept. 20, but postponed the vote after Ford came forward. After it was clear that Ford would testify on Thursday (Sept. 27), the committee set the vote for the day following the hearing. The committee’s top-ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, blasted the move, saying “Republicans don’t even need to hear her before they move ahead with a vote.” After the turbulent hearing concluded yesterday (Sept. 27), Republican lawmakers gathered behind closed doors and decided to go ahead with the scheduled vote.
Members from both parties, as well as groups including the American Bar Association, have called for delaying the vote to give the Senate and the public more time to consider Ford’s testimony, as well as investigate new sexual-misconduct accusations against Kavanaugh from two other women. Though the committee is controlled by the GOP, moderate Republican senators Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski are being closely watched (paywall) as they have yet to announce their positions on the nomination.
In their testimonies, Ford faced intense questioning by Rachel Mitchell, an outside prosecutor specializing in sex crimes, on behalf of the committee’s 11 male Republicans. Kavanaugh vehemently denied Ford’s accusations, saying they had “totally and permanently destroyed” his family and name.
Should it proceed, the vote will take place at 9:30am US eastern time. After voting, the committee will send its recommendation for Kavanaugh’s nomination to be confirmed or rejected to the Republican-majority Senate. Republican senators said the first procedural vote could take place on the Senate floor on Saturday (Sept. 29), with a full vote taking place early next week. A simple majority of 51 senators is required for the vote to pass. If there is a tie, vice president Mike Pence can cast the deciding vote.
If confirmed, Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court would preserve the court’s conservative majority for years to come.