October 5, 2018 at 11:36 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Senate advances Kavanaugh nomination in key procedural vote

Brett Kavanaugh, gay news, Washington Blade

Judge Brett Kavanaugh (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Amid a bitter fight over confirming Brett Kavanaugh to U.S. Supreme Court over allegations of sexual assault and perjury, the U.S. Senate voted to invoke cloture on his nomination Friday morning.

The vote to advance the Kavanaugh was 51-49 and largely along party lines. The undecided senators ahead of the cloture vote were Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (R-W.Va.). Flake and Collins ended up voting with their party to advance Kavanaugh and were joined by Manchin, but Murkowski decided to vote “no.”

Another undecided senator until Thursday was Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who’s facing a tough re-election campaign in her state. Heitkamp, however, declared she’d vote “no” on Kavanaugh.

With cloture invoked, the final vote on Kavanaugh is set to take place on Saturday. The rancorous debate over President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court will likely continue until then.

Trump for his part commended the Senate for invoking cloture on Kavanaugh, tweeting out his thanks to the Senate shortly after the vote.

Sharon McGowan, legal director for the LGBT legal group Lambda Legal, said in a statement her organization is “deeply disappointed” senators invoked cloture on Kavanaugh, but said the “fight isn’t over.”

“We continue to hope that there will be other senators who, like Sen. Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota, will ask themselves what sending this type of devastating message to sexual violence survivors will do to the society they have taken an oath to serve,” McGowan said. “Lambda Legal continues to implore all senators to listen to their consciences and vote ‘no’ when the final up-or-down vote occurs on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court. Every senator must decide whether they will be able to look in the mirror every day after the final vote and know in their hearts that they have done what is right for the county.”

Faiz Shakir, national political director for the American Civil Liberties Union, also urged senators to reconsider their positions ahead of the final vote.

“This is not over yet,” Shakir said. “Senators still have a chance to make this right and listen to the voices of thousands of sexual assault survivors and their allies who traveled to D.C. from states far and wide to share their stories with their senators directly. Tomorrow’s vote will be a critical test for senators’ willingness to set aside tribal politics and stand united against sexual assault. The nation is watching, and it’ll remember this vote in November and long after.”

More to come…

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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