The clues were rumbling around Washington all day yesterday: Republicans don’t have the 50 votes they need to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
While Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota boldly announced she would vote “no” on Kavanaugh, several undecided Republicans failed to announce they would vote “yes” on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
The undecided Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Jeff Flake of Arizona — have been undecided for weeks but it was thought that yesterday’s release of the FBI report into Kavanaugh’s background would be the catalyst needed to get them to commit to a “yes” vote. But it didn’t happen.
Instead, Murkowski met for hours in her office with women who have survived sexual assaults, and by all accounts she was listening intently and was very sympathetic to their pleas. It appeared that she may be leaning toward a “no” vote, which would align with the desires of many of her constituents in Alaska, where Kavanaugh is very unpopular.
The next thing to throw Republican Senate leadership into a panic was the fact that GOP Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado was also meeting with survivors of sexual assault, and he appeared to be undecided as well.
Then it was reported that Flake once again went to talk to his good friend, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. This seemed to be an indication that Flake was not only undecided but was seeking input from a Democrat as to what he should do.
If Gardner is truly undecided this would explain a tweet from the Washington Post with a quote from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa:
@ChuckGrassley‘s whip count, as relayed to me, @eschor and @LACaldwellDC on a noisy Senate train: “I know that we don’t have a chance to get Heitkamp now and I thought we did. Maybe one or two Democrats got a chance? And I haven’t heard from four Republicans.”
"I know that we don’t have a chance to get Heitkamp now and I thought we did. Maybe one or two Democrats got a chance? And I haven’t heard from four Republicans."
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) October 4, 2018
So as of yesterday afternoon, Grassley had not “heard from four Republicans.” Clearly Kavanaugh’s nomination at this point is not a done deal.
Then this morning Jonathan Swan from Axios added to the speculation about Kavanaugh’s nomination being in trouble. He wrote:
“Sources involved with Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation are nervous going into today’s 10:30 a.m. test vote. A senior source involved in the process told me fairly late last night:”We’re going into this vote and we don’t have 50 right now.”
“There’s been a lot of work that was done today, by members wading through this material. I don’t want to put my thumb on the scale. Things keep moving — so much, it feels like we’re walking on quicksand. So I don’t even want to say confidence or not confidence.”
So let me repeat: going into today’s “test vote” (which means a vote on cloture, which is required to send the Kavanaugh nomination to the Senate for a floor vote tomorrow) they “are nervous.”
Republicans “don’t have 50 right now” to vote in favor of Kavanaugh.
This is truly high drama. Everyone assumed yesterday after the sham FBI investigation was released that Kavanaugh’s nomination was a done deal, but that is not true. The ending of the story is not known to anyone at this time.
Stay tuned for further developments as the day progresses.