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With Jeff Flake’s Vote, Senate Republicans Inching Closer Toward Votes Needed for Kavanaugh Confirmation

Less than 24 hours after Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Senate Republicans are racing toward a confirmation for the nominee.

Senator Jeff Flake, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, announced Friday that he intends to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, according to a statement. Flake was long seen as one of a handful of critical swing votes necessary for reaching the 50 votes needed (plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence) to confirm Kavanaugh.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is planning to vote at 9:30 a.m. Friday, with the hopes of starting a procedural vote with the full Senate on Saturday and getting a confirmation vote as early as next Tuesday.

Republicans who have publicly expressed support for Kavanaugh remain just shy of reaching a majority, with Axios reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he had 48 hard “yes” votes. With Flake, that number is now just one short of the requisite 50.

But Republican leaders are reportedly confident that the votes will come. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin may be pushed to vote in favor thanks to a tough reelection bid, according to Axios. Meanwhile, Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski remained uncommitted as of Thursday evening.

Nevertheless, Republicans have another weapon in their arsenal to sway these senators: former President George W. Bush. The Washington Post reports that Bush has called each of them in recent days. Republicans reportedly hope that Bush, who has a long history with Kavanaugh, will prove to be more capable of convincing them than Trump.