With the final outcome still unclear, the Senate on Friday morning narrowly voted to force an end to debate on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, clearing the way for a final vote as soon as Saturday, as both parties continued to trade verbal barbs over the controversial nomination process for President Donald Trump's pick to take a seat on the high court.
"It's time to vote," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said bluntly, as he spent more time in his final remarks before the cloture vote slamming the actions of Democrats during the confirmation process, rather than talking about the reasons why Kavanaugh should be on the Supreme Court.
"We have the opportunity to advance the nomination of an incredibly well-qualified and well-respected jurist to a post that demands such excellence," McConnell said just before the procedural vote.
"We saw a man filled with anger and aggression," countered Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), as Democrats questioned the 'temperament' of Kavanaugh.
After the vote, the President expressed his excitement with the outcome:
The Senate was hushed as most Senators were at their desks as their names were called.
Only two Senators broke with their parties - Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted against proceeding to a final vote, while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), whose re-election bid has been repeatedly targeted by President Trump, nevertheless bailed out the White House by breaking ranks with his fellow Democrats.
Flake told reporters he would vote for Kavanaugh - while Murkowski said she would vote against him on Saturday.
But the final outcome was still in doubt; Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she would announce her final decision on Kavanaugh in a 3 pm floor speech, and it was not immediately clear how Manchin would vote on the Kavanaugh nomination.
After the vote ended, no Senators stepped up to debate, as a series of intense conversations quickly developed on the Senate floor, some involving top Republicans, others involving Collins and Murkowski.
Democrats ridiculed the process for Kavanaugh, saying the extra FBI review had only scratched the surface of what needed to be discussed.
"This so-called “investigation” is a complete sham," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).
Under the rules, up to 30 hours of debate is now allowed on the Kavanaugh nomination, meaning a final vote could take place by around 5 pm on Saturday.
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