As senators weigh an FBI report on sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, eyes are on five swing votes — all but one of whom are still undecided.
The lawmakers to watch are Republican Sens. Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, as well as Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin. Given Republicans’ razor-thin 51-49 majority in the Senate, their collective votes will be the deciding factor in whether or not Kavanaugh is ultimately confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Heitkamp — a red-state senator facing a stiff reelection battle in November — announced Thursday afternoon that she will be opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination. But the other four senators haven’t yet said where they stand.
Flake and Collins on Thursday appeared to signal that they are satisfied with the scope of the FBI report and its findings. Collins has said she found the report to be a “thorough” review even as Democrats have lambasted it for its limited scope, sentiments that Flake echoed.
We’ll be keeping tabs on where these five pivotal senators stand as a procedural vote on Kavanaugh approaches this Friday. Here’s what each of them have said so far.
- Susan Collins: “It appears to be a very thorough investigation, but I’m going back later to personally read the interviews,” Collins told reporters about the FBI report on Thursday. Later in the day, Collins reiterated the sentiment, noting “I’ve not yet finished going through all the materials,” according to CNN’s Manu Raju.
- Jeff Flake: Flake said much of the same. “I think Susan Collins was quoted saying it was very thorough but no new corroborative information came out of it. That’s accurate,” Flake told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday. “I wanted this pause; we’ve had this pause. We’ve had the professionals, the FBI, determine — given the scope that we gave them, current credible allegations — to go and do their review, which they’ve done.” Flake was at the forefront of calls for a one-week delay on a Kavanaugh vote, which would enable the FBI to conduct an investigation.
- Lisa Murkowski: Murkowski has held her cards a bit closer to the chest, noting that she is still working on reading the entirety of the report herself. “I’m not wasting any daylight here,” she said. She did add, however, that she agreed with an assessment Collins had previously made that Kavanaugh was not likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.
- Heidi Heitkamp: Amid all the furor surrounding the FBI report, Heitkamp — who crossed party lines to back Neil Gorsuch — has announced that she will be voting against Kavanaugh citing concerns tied to the sexual misconduct allegations as well as his temperament. “Dr. Ford had nothing to gain and everything to lose by coming forward with her deeply personal story,” Heitkamp wrote in a statement outlining her decision.
- Joe Manchin: Manchin has yet to offer a definitive take on the FBI report and the nomination. “Heidi made her decision. I’ll make mine,” he told reporters. He has previously praised the accomplishments that Kavanaugh has made during his adult life and suggested that the hearing last week could offer him an opportunity to “clear his name.”