Brett Kavanaugh is one tiny step away from becoming a Supreme Court judge for life

Trump’s pick will advance to a final vote.
Trump’s pick will advance to a final vote.
Image: Reuters/Jim Bourg
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Brett Kavanaugh’s controversial nomination to the Supreme Court advanced a step further this morning, when senators voted 51 to 49 to advance to a final confirmation vote.

That vote is expected tomorrow (October 6). If none of the senators change their position, Kavanaugh will become a Supreme Court judge by the narrowest margin in history.

Three Republican senators believed to be on the fence about Kavanaugh’s nomination, Maine’s Susan Collins, Arizona’s Jeff Flake, and Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, voted in favor of moving the nomination forward. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin also voted in favor.

Could anything change in the next vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination?

It is unusual, but not unprecedented, for a senator to vote “yes” on a “cloture” vote like today’s, but then vote against a final motion. Last year, John McCain, the Arizona Republican, did just that in a dramatic motion on health care, advancing it to a final vote and then giving it the thumbs-down.

Collins, who has been the focus of a passionate campaign by women’s rights activists and sexual assault survivors, has scheduled a press conference for 3pm today to announce how she plans to vote tomorrow. Already, though, some women have expressed bitter disappointment at her vote:

Even if Collins does ultimately vote against Kavanaugh’s nomination, another senator would have to join her in order to prevent a tie. Vice president Mike Pence is the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

Lisa Murkowski, the Republican from Alaska, voted “no,” this morning signaling that she won’t support Kavanaugh in the final vote.

The US Senate has increasingly relied on cloture votes in recent years, as partisan differences increase, in order to get presidential nominees confirmed.