The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Friday to advance Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the full chamber for a vote, but Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) created drama by implying that he would not vote in favor of the nominee without a one-week delay for an FBI investigation to take place.
After hours of statements, the committee voted shortly after 12:30pm CT on Friday—down party lines—to advance Kavanaugh, just a day after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gave emotional testimony about an alleged sexual assault in high school, which she came forward with just 12 days earlier. Kavanaugh also testified and denied the claims on Thursday.
The vote was slightly delayed as senators huddled in back rooms ahead of the vote to advance the nominee.
After the committee reconvened, Flake asked that a full vote in the Senate be delayed for a week to allow for the FBI to investigate the alleged assault.
“I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to, but not more than, one week in order to let the FBI continue to do an investigation—limited in time and scope—to the current allegations that are there,” Flake said. “I will vote to advance the bill to the floor with that understanding… I think we ought to do what we can to make sure that we do all due diligence with a nomination this important.”
.@JeffFlake: "I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week in order to let the FBI continue to do an investigation… I will vote to advance the bill to the floor with that understanding." pic.twitter.com/BFo1dbqGP9
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 28, 2018
The move from the Arizona senator added more drama to what has already been a tension-filled few days regarding Kavanaugh’s nomination.
On Friday morning, Flake was confronted by several sexual assault survivors in an elevator before the hearing.
There are questions as to whether Flake’s request for a one-week delay will be met by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). However, McConnell may not risk a floor vote without knowing he has the votes to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
In his remarks on Friday, Flake implied that he would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh if the one-week delay and FBI investigation did not take place.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have remained undecided on whether or not they will vote for the nominee. If one, or both, of them vote against Kavanaugh—and all Democrats in the Senate vote against him—he would not have the votes to be confirmed.
As the news came out, reports circulated that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) supported the delay, giving enough votes to stop McConnell from bringing Kavanaugh to the floor before an FBI investigation occurs.
In comments after the news broke, President Donald Trump, who would likely need to authorize the investigation, said he supports whatever the Judiciary Committee wanted to do.
Update 3:16pm CT, Sept. 28: Rep. John Cornyn (R-Tx.) said after the Judiciary Committee meeting on Friday that a “supplemental FBI background investigation” would take place, NBC News reports. It appears that McConnell has agreed to wait until it is completed to hold a full vote on Kavanaugh.