The nation has been torn apart by the nomination process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, and after today’s vote by the Senate Judiciary committee, the drama has just begun.
In short, the Senate Judiciary voted 11-10 to move forward and present Judge Kavanaugh to the full Senate for a vote on his confirmation to sit on the United States Supreme Court. The vote was along party lines, with Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican Senator from Arizona, casting the deciding vote; with one caveat.
Sen. Flake, who released a statement early this morning strenuously supporting the nominee, apparently had a slight change of heart as the day went on. At the call of the committee hearing, the Chairman allowed Senator Flake to address the committee prior to the vote. His position was clear: he would vote in favor of submitting Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate, but would not commit to voting on his confirmation until and unless the FBI performed an investigation limited in time and scope. One week to investigate, on just the current allegations.
Immediately upon Sen. Flake’s impassioned statement to the committee, the motion was seconded, and a vote took place, with all 11 Republicans, included Sen. Flake, voting “yes”, and all 10 Democrats voting “no.”
Then all hell broke loose, with several committee members being confused as to what they just voted on. The Senate Democrats wanted to make sure that everyone understood, including the general public, that an agreement had been reached with Sen. Flake wherein a one-week FBI investigation would take place before the full Senate voted on the nominee. At least that’s what they thought they’d just voted on. In reality, they voted to present Judge Kavanaugh to the full Senate, period, and their only chance of delaying the Senate vote rests with Sen. Flake.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, Sen. Flake doesn’t control the full Senate, and only the majority party leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, can delay the vote. Further, only the President can order an FBI investigation, so it doesn’t mean that a week delay to allow an FBI investigation will actually occur. Or does it?
Sen. Flake, arguably, is the deciding vote in the Senate, and he’s made it very clear that he would like an FBI investigation limited in time and scope before he casts his vote to confirm. The last time I checked, 51 out of 100 votes are needed to confirm, so Sen. McConnell would be wise to adhere to Sen. Flake’s request.
So what happens next? If Senator McConnell has the votes without Sen. Flake, then he can simply call for a vote as early as tomorrow. If he doesn’t, then he really has no choice but to delay the vote until an FBI investigation can occur, after which, Sen. Flake indicates he would vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.
Of course, President Trump alone gets the final decision as to whether to ask the FBI to perform a one- week investigation, and we all know how President Trump feels about the FBI. And Judge Kavanaugh.
The drama continues as we wait to see what Sen. McConnell decides.