WASHINGTON – The Senate Friday voted to end debate on the nomination of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
The cloture motion passed 51-49.
Senate rules allow up to 30 hours of debate after cloture is invoked.
A final vote is expected late Saturday afternoon.
GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona have not yet said how they will vote. Neither has West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
Collins, Flake and Manchin voted for the cloture motion. Murkowski did not.
Collins has said she will announce her decision at 3 p.m. EDT.
Allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh have been the focus of the confirmation process since mid-September.
Last week California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee she is “100 percent sure” Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in the early 1980s.
Kavanaugh denied the allegation in his testimony to the committee.
The day after the hearing, the committee voted to approve Kavanaugh but a agreement was reached to delay the floor vote for one week so the FBI could investigate Ford’s allegations, as well as those of Deborah Ramirez. She accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a party while they were freshmen at Yale.
A supplemental report on the investigation was sent to Capitol Hill Thursday morning.
Members were invited to view the report in a secure room for up to one hour. Only one copy was made available to the 100 senators.
Shortly thereafter Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement that the report exonerates Kavanaugh of any wrongdoing.
Senate Democrats criticized the report as incomplete and called for some of the documents to be released with redactions.
The request was denied.
At present count Kavanaugh has the support of 48 of 51 Senate Republicans. If all 49 Senate Democrats vote no, Kavanaugh will need two more Republicans to vote yes. That would enable Vice President Mike Pence to enter the fray and cast the tie-breaking vote.
Immediately after the cloture motion, President Donald Trump tweeted: “Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting “YES” to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!”