Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the hearings will occur over multiple days early next month as Congress returns from its summer recess. Senators’ opening statements will dominate the entire first day, and Kavanaugh will be questioned by lawmakers beginning Sept. 5.
Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 Senate majority, though Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has not voted for months because of an illness. Still, GOP leaders are confident they will have the votes to confirm Kavanaugh, currently a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
That’s because Republicans appear united: Frequent swing Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, show no signs of opposing Kavanaugh. Also, several Democrats may vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is walking a political tightrope. Liberals want him to elevate the Kavanaugh fight above all other Senate business, but he’s also mindful of the 10 Senate Democrats facing re-election in November in states that President Donald Trump won in 2016.
Not all vulnerable Democrats will vote for Kavanaugh. In fact, just three last year voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court: Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. But any Democrat votes for Kavanaugh would give Republicans more breathing room.
Although Schumer said Democrats shouldn’t meet one-on-one with Kavanaugh while they fight Republicans over access to memos written by the nominee during his previous government service, Heitkamp and Donnelly will meet separately with Kavanaugh on Wednesday. Manchin met with Kavanaugh last week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he wants a vote on Kavanaugh before the Supreme Court begins its new term in October. Absent an external event or a poor performance during the Judiciary Committee hearings, Kavanaugh is on track to win Senate confirmation next month.