The next step would have been for McConnell to call for a cloture vote, or a vote to end debate on the nomination. A cloture vote, if passed, would move the nomination on to the confirmation vote by the Senate.
McConnell held off on the call for that vote, allowing for the one-week investigation to take place. He is expected to invoke cloture as soon as the report is released and read.
Once cloture is invoked, the Senate takes a series of steps to cut off debate on the nomination and move toward a vote.
Here is the procedure for invoking cloture:
- At least 16 senators must sign a petition to invoke cloture.The petition is then presented by interrupting the speech of another senator.
- The petition is presented to the clerk who reads it to the Senate members.
- Then, the petition is ignored for a day. The day the petition is left to sit is a day in which the Senate must be seated and in session. That 24-hour period is known as a legislative day. For instance, if a petition for cloture is filed on a Wednesday, the Senate will not go back to the motion until Friday.
- On that day, after the Senate has been sitting for one hour, a quorum call is taken. A quorum call is a roll call of those present in the Senate. It is used to determine if a majority, or quorum, of senators, are present in the chamber.
- The Senate majority leader, McConnell, then presents the cloture petition.
- A vote on the petition is called.
- A simple majority of those present is needed to invoke cloture.
Once cloture has been invoked, this is what happens:
- There will be no more than 30 more hours of debate on the matter in which cloture was invoked. In this case, Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.
- No amendments may be moved concerning the matter unless they were filed on the day between the petition being presented and the cloture vote. Those must be relevant to the debate.
- No senator may speak for more than one hour.
- Some usual procedural motions are suspended.
- No other matters may be considered until the matter under which cloture was called is decided.