The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for Friday, according to a notice from the committee's Republican chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
Though Grassley said in a post on Twitter Tuesday evening that the Judiciary Committee vote would only take place "if we're ready to vote. If we aren't ready, we won't."
A Friday vote would force lawmakers to decide on President Donald Trump's nominee just one day after a much-anticipated hearing in which a woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault is expected to testify to lawmakers. That woman, Christine Blasey Ford, has been locked in negotiations with the committee's Republican staffers over the details of the hearing since shortly after coming forward with her accusation just over one week ago.
No hearing has been scheduled for a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who also claims that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, and it is unclear if there will be one. John Clune, a lawyer for Ramirez, wrote in a post on Twitter Tuesday that Ramirez "remains adamant" that an FBI investigation is the appropriate venue to discuss her accusation.
The top ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee said scheduling a vote for Friday made it clear that "Republicans don't want this to be a fair process."
"For Republicans to schedule a Friday vote on Brett Kavanaugh today, two days before Dr. Blasey Ford has had a chance to tell her story, is outrageous," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in the statement issued Tuesday evening.
Following a vote in the committee, the nomination will be considered by the full Senate. Republicans hold a narrow majority in the chamber, though not all members of the Senate GOP have indicated how they plan to vote.
Kavanaugh's nomination has been roiled by the dual allegations of sexual assault, which surfaced in recent weeks. Less than a month ago, the federal appeals court judge appeared set to be confirmed by the Senate in time to take a seat on the high court before the start of oral arguments next month.
That would have given a key victory to Trump, who has made appointing conservatives to the court a pillar in his political message to voters. And it would solidify a conservative majority on the nation's highest court, possibly for a generation.
But the questions over Kavanaugh's treatment of women — as well as his credibility — have thrust the confirmation process into deep uncertainty.
Amid the uproar, Kavanaugh has vowed not to withdraw, and Trump has committed to pursuing the matter to a vote. In a television appearance Monday night, Kavanaugh repeated his categorical denials of the two accusations, and, sitting beside his wife Ashley, told Fox News that he was "not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process."
The Republican leadership has remained defiant.
"We're going to be moving forward," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday. "I'm confident we're going to win, confident that he'll be confirmed in the very near future."