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Murkowski Becomes First GOP Senator to Vote Against Kavanaugh

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) arrives to view the FBI report on sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill on Oct. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was the sole GOP vote against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on a procedural vote this morning to move to a final floor vote.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) voted for cloture to end debate and move to a final vote, resulting in a 51-49 tally, but could still vote “no” in the end. Late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted for cloture on Obamacare repeal in 2017 before his critical “no” vote on the final bill.

After getting over the cloture hurdle, the Kavanaugh nomination could be brought for a final Senate vote Saturday. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) will be in his home state for his daughter’s wedding, but said he’d fly back to D.C. as soon as possible for a vote.

Collins is expected to announce her final verdict on Kavanaugh at 3 p.m. EST today. Flake has not indicated when he’ll announce his final decision; Manchin has indicated he won’t pre-announce his vote.

Manchin is up for re-election, and currently leads his Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey by nearly 10 points in the polling average. Flake is retiring from Congress. Collins and Murkowski are not up for re-election this year.

Though Kavanaugh enjoys strong polling support among Alaska Republicans, Murkowski enjoys strong support from Alaska Natives who are not backing the nomination. The Alaska Federation of Natives came out against Kavanaugh based on how they fear he’ll rule on issues such as tribal rights, environmental protection and healthcare, and independent Alaska Gov. Bill Walker cited similar reasons in his opposition to the nominee.

Murkowski met in her office for hours Thursday with dozens of women who flew out from Alaska, including attorneys, activists and survivors of sexual assault.

Alaska media reported Murkowski has had her own #MeToo experience with sexual assault or harassment, but the details have not been revealed.

“It’s the senator’s story to share and she will share it when or if she wants to,” Murkowski spokeswoman Karina Borger told KTUU.

UPDATE 12: 30 p.m. EST: Murkowski confirmed to reporters that she will be a “no” in the final vote and said she made up her mind this morning. “I believe we are dealing with issues that are bigger than a nominee,” she told reporters after the cloture vote.

“I believe Brett Kavanaugh is a good man,” she said. “In my view he’s not the right man for the court at this time.”

Flake told an MSNBC reporter that he will be a “yes” vote on Kavanaugh “unless something big changes.”

“I don’t see what would,” Flake added. “But anyway, I’m glad we had a better process.”