GOP Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) said on Friday that he is supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, giving Kavanaugh a significant boost as Republicans try to confirm him early next week.
“While some may argue that a different standard should apply regarding the Senate’s advice and consent responsibilities, I believe that the Constitution’s provisions of fairness and due process apply here as well. I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” Flake said.
Flake’s decision comes less than a day after an emotional, hours-long hearing where both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman accusing him of sexual assault, testified for hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Flake called her testimony “compelling” but said he still had doubts after the hearing.
“I wish that I could express the confidence that some of my colleagues have conveyed about what either did or did not happen in the early 1980s, but I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty,” he said.
It means Kavanaugh will get the support needed to be reported favorably by the panel, which is scheduled to hold a vote on the nomination on Friday morning.
Republicans hold a one-seat advantage on the committee. Flake was the only GOP vote in question in the wake of the Thursday hearing, after which he told reporters that was still trying to “chase down a few things.”
Flake’s announcement doesn’t guarantee that Kavanaugh will ultimately be confirmed. Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 margin in the Senate. Two other Republicans — moderate Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) — remained undecided after the committee hearing.
“I am going to go home, have some dinner and have a chance to think about all that’s gone on,” Murkowski told reporters on Thursday night, asked how she was feeling about the hearing.
Republicans can lose one senator before they would need help from Democrats to confirm Kavanaugh.
No Democrat has yet to say they will support him, and several red-state Democrats considered potential “yes” votes are under a mountain of pressure after Ford’s allegation of sexual assault, as well as two others, became public. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) became the latest Democrat to announce he would oppose Kavanaugh.
Red-state Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) remain undecided.
Even if Flake had voted “no” and blocked Kavanaugh from winning a positive stamp of approval from the committee, GOP leadership had signaled they would use other procedural options to get Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor.
“I will be proud to vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh when the full Senate votes on his nomination in the coming days,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Thursday night even as Republicans remained short of the votes needed to confirm Kavanaugh.