Update: Senate Republicans on Friday afternoon agreed to delay a vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation for one week to allow for an FBI probe into allegations of sexual misconduct against the judge.
Republicans have heard enough.
Just a day after hearing extraordinary, emotionally charged testimony from Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, the Senate GOP is moving forward with the judge's confirmation process.
The first key vote on his nomination was lined up for Friday morning, but was rescheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET. If things went as Senate Republican leadership and Trump planned, Kavanaugh, who is also accused of sexual misconduct by two other women, was on track to be confirmed by the middle of next week. But now the final vote is up in the air after Senate Republicans agreed to delay it again to allow for the FBI to probe Ford's claims.
The judge denies all of the allegations.
Kavanaugh's nomination was considered on the ropes as late as Thursday afternoon. Ford's harrowing, quiet testimony was widely seen as credible and potentially devastating for Republicans eager to get the 53-year-old Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment on the top court. His confirmation would potentially establish a conservative majority on the bench that could last for generations.
Kavanaugh changed the calculus, however, when he delivered a fiery, emotional opening statement and subsequently dueled with Democratic senators. His performance earned rave reviews on the right, particularly from the president. "Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting," Trump wrote on Twitter.
Yet while his testimony painted a compelling, emotionally raw portrait of defiance, it still left doubt among his critics and Democrats who want to put a halt to the confirmation process.
While Ford, 51, was eager to call for an FBI probe into her claims, Kavanaugh repeatedly refused to agree to do so and brushed it off as an unnecessary step. The judge also refused to say whether his high school friend Mark Judge, whom Ford said was present during the alleged sexual assault in 1982, should come forward and testify. Judge has repeatedly said he does not recall the encounter Ford describes, and has sought to avoid speaking in public about her claims.
The American Bar Association has meanwhile called for the Judiciary Committee to pause the confirmation process, calling for FBI investigations into allegations against Kavanaugh. America Magazine, a leading Catholic journal, took back its endorsement of Kavanaugh, himself a Catholic, and called for his nomination to be withdrawn.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, has also refused to hold hearings on the other accusations facing Kavanaugh – including an allegation that he exposed himself to a college classmate and that he helped spiked girls' drinks at high school parties to make it easier for them to be gang raped.
Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 edge in the Senate. Two GOP defections could sink the nomination, provided the Democratic caucus is united in opposition. Yet there are at least two red state Democrats – Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both of whom are up for re-election this year – who are reportedly undecided about Kavanaugh.
The committee had scheduled a vote for Friday morning but the members sparred with each other for hours. The panel voted 11-10, along party lines, to advance Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate.
Kavanaugh's nomination will be subject to at least a few days of procedural votes. The Senate is slated to vote on a motion to proceed Saturday. That requires a simple majority to pass, leading to a cloture vote. This, too, would only require a simple majority, although historically it had required 60 votes. McConnell used the so-called nuclear option to do away with this rule to push through the nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump nominated in 2017.
Then, provided the cloture motion is approved, Kavanaugh's nomination will be subject to as many as 30 hours of debate on the floor.
As things shake out right now, though, it looks like a full Senate vote on the judge's confirmation will not happen Tuesday as had been expected.