The Slatest

Mitch McConnell Might Keep the Senate Around Through the Weekend to Confirm Brett Kavanaugh

Sens. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn.
Sens. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A new fear swept through the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon as Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination sat in a holding pattern ahead of Thursday’s hearing: The fear of weekend work.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, according to several senators, told Republicans at a Tuesday luncheon to prepare to work through the weekend to process Kavanaugh’s confirmation. They want to wrap it up as soon as possible for several reasons: Because they’re already irritated that it’s taken this long, they want Kavanaugh on the bench as close as possible to the start of the new SCOTUS term on Monday, and they don’t want any new allegations to surface or wrong turns to be taken while the nomination hangs in the wind.

Here’s how the process will work.

The hearing with Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford will be held Thursday at 10 a.m., and the committee could vote on the nomination at any point afterwards. As much as Republicans leaders might prefer, say, a Thursday afternoon vote to happen, the presence of undecided Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake on the committee—where the Republicans outnumber Democrats by one vote—might necessitate some time to digest the hearing before the vote could be taken. Common sense and the optics of “rushing” would also necessitate some time to digest the hearing.

Let’s consider a scenario, then, where the committee approves Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday. The soonest that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could introduce the nomination in the full chamber, by filing a cloture petition, is on Saturday, and the Senate could vote to end a filibuster two days later, on Monday. After that—and barring any time agreement with the Democrats, which we shouldn’t expect Republicans to offer—the Senate would have to burn through 30 hours of debate time. So the final vote on confirmation would be on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Nothing has been set in stone yet, because no one knows how Thursday’s hearing will turn out. If it goes really badly for Kavanaugh, then there might not be any advancement necessary. If Kavanaugh puts all doubts to rest and proves himself to have been the bright young pip who was too busy with church activities to ever lay eyes on an alcoholic beverage, he could be confirmed with 53 to 55 votes early next week.

Some of the more gung-ho members of the Judiciary Committee will be ready to start immediately.

“It’s going to be pretty hard to move this along without votes on Friday and Saturday probably,” Utah Sen. Orrin Hath told reporters Tuesday. Or Thursday and Sunday. Or Friday and Monday! The latter sounds much better, and one suspects that candidates for reelection on both sides would agree. (Also better: No votes, ever again, on anything.)

I asked Maine Sen. Susan Collins if a process that began right after the hearing on Thursday, or on the following day would be too fast for her liking.

“I truly can’t answer that question,” she said, “because I don’t know what’s going to happen at the hearing.”