Key Republican senator backs Kavanaugh for U.S

Senate Votes to End Debate on Kavanaugh Nomination Setting Up Final Vote

US Senate: Don't Approve Kavanaugh Nomination

All eyes are on the key Republicans who could make or break the nomination - Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. But Collins's support is expected to give Kavanaugh enough votes to clear the Senate if the rest of the Republican caucus holds firm.

Senators held a procedural "roll call" poll on whether to advance Kavanaugh's nomination further, with 51 senators voting in favour.

The drama over a heated confirmation that has transfixed and tore apart much of the nation essentially ended when one of those four, Republican Susan Collins, of ME, took to the Senate floor at roughly 3:45 p.m. EDT and announced her support of Kavanaugh.

"Why don't we dunk him in water, see if he floats", Graham responded, implying the ever-expanding standards Kavanaugh has been asked to meet are comparable to those historically imposed on women who were accused of being witches.

His behavior then also revealed his "deep distress at the unfairness of how this allegation has been handled", Kavanaugh said.

'Never before have we had a nominee display such flagrant partisanship and open hostility at a hearing, ' said Feinstein of California. "A guy who has been a great judge who I think will become a great Supreme Court justice".

Collins is among the few wavering senators who could decide whether Kavanaugh is confirmed for a seat on the high court. News reports say neither Ford nor Kavanaugh was interviewed, and several people who claimed to have known the nominee as a student complained they were unable to secure an Federal Bureau of Investigation interview. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voting "yes".

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Flake forced Republicans to launch the additional investigation last week after a tense negotiation with Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats. "I'm grateful to the FBI for their efforts in doing a thorough, very important investigation".

Critics rejected Kavanaugh's rationale because he had told lawmakers that he wrote the remarks himself before reciting them in front of the committee.

Kavanaugh was heavily criticized for his demeanor during his September 27 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on allegations he assaulted Christine Blasey Ford at a suburban Maryland house party in 1982.

In an angry rebuttal later that day, Kavanaugh said the accusations were part of a "political hit" by Democrats.

But Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer cryptically said he disagrees with Republican statements that the report showed "no hint of misconduct" by Kavanaugh - prompting reporters to ask Schumer what he meant before he walked away without another word. "It's time to vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court". Kavanaugh could provide the decisive vote to roll back abortion rights, outlaw affirmative action programs and slash environmental regulations.

Collins hasn't opposed any Supreme Court nominee since she was elected to the Senate in 1996.

His nomination was left teetering on the edge after university psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford claimed in harrowing testimony last week that he tried to rape her when they were high school students. She questioned the nominee's "temperament, honesty and impartiality", and said, "Our actions right now are a poignant signal to young girls and women across our country". Several other potential witnesses named by Ford said they didn't recall the gathering she described.

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