Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell strode onto the Senate floor around 9:45 p.m. Wednesday night to do what observers had been waiting for all day: file cloture to end debate on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. By getting it done before midnight, McConnell was able to fulfill the pledge he made on Monday that the Senate would vote on the nomination “this week.” The first procedural vote will come on Friday.
Here’s how the rest of the schedule will play out: When a cloture petition is filed, an “intervening day” must be observed before any further action. This will encompass all of Thursday. The Senate can then vote on cloture—whether to end debate—one hour after the Senate convenes the following day. Expect that vote, then, about one hour after the Senate convenes on Friday. After that, and absent any time agreement with the Democrats that I don’t believe the Democrats would ever make on this nomination, the Senate is required to burn another 30 hours before the final confirmation vote. That will come as soon as Saturday.
Thursday will be decisive. With the FBI’s supplemental background check due to arrive at the Capitol later Wednesday night—weird coincidence that the FBI is able to wrap it up just in time to meet McConnell’s scheduling preferences!—senators will be able to look at it all day Thursday through a fittingly stupid process. One (1) hard copy of the report will be transmitted to the Capitol and kept in a secure reading room. Senators, but not their staffs, will have the opportunity to read it in the following order: Republicans from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., Democrats from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Republicans from 10 to 11, and so on. That’s not a joke. It’s just where we are.
The report won’t be made available to the public, but some senator could always try to steal the report and read it on the Senate floor. Or not steal it and just paraphrase it on the Senate floor. But the former would be more exciting.