That procedure lets a senator offset another's absence without affecting the outcome, and would allow Kavanaugh to win by the same two-vote margin he would have received had both lawmakers voted.
Murkowski has expressed unease with the sexual assault allegations lodged against Kavanaugh, which he denies. Susan Collins made multiple trips to a secure facility in a Capitol basement to review the results of the FBI's fast-paced background investigation of Kavanaugh.
But Mr Trump's Republicans are more confident they will win the vote after two wavering Republican senators responded positively to an Federal Bureau of Investigation report on accusations of sexual misconduct against Mr Kavanaugh.
Republicans said the confidential document - which described interviews agents conducted with 10 witnesses - failed to find anyone who could corroborate allegations by his two chief accusers, Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.
In an angry rebuttal later that day, Kavanaugh said the accusations were part of a "political hit" by Democrats. Assuming Flake is on board, Kavanaugh needs one of these three votes to take his Supreme Court seat.
Republicans hold a razor-thin 51-49 majority in the Senate, and can only afford to lose one vote if Democrats vote unanimously against Kavanaugh on Saturday.
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Friday morning, Democratic Sen.
However, one Democrat-West Virginia's Joe Manchin-voted "yes", a mild surprise that he insists doesn't guarantee his actual vote on Kavanaugh will be "yes". Lisa Murkowski, the lone Republican who voted against advancing Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination, has carved out a path as a fiercely independent senator known for bucking her party. Another 101 protesters were arrested today, the U.S. Capitol Police said. The roll call was ending a contest fought against the backdrop of the.MeToo movement and Trump's unyielding support of his nominee. "We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy". By a 51-49 vote, the Senate agreed to cut off debate on his nomination, and signaled that a final vote will likely come on Saturday.
Minutes after the vote concluded, Trump tweeted that he is "Very proud of the U.S. Senate for voting "YES" to advance the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh!".
Manchin, the only remaining undeclared lawmaker, used an emailed statement to announce his support for Kavanaugh moments after Collins finished talking, making him the only Democrat supporting the nominee.
Flake's announcement comes as a blow to Democrats, who view Kavanaugh as a serious threat to the Affordable Care Act and women's reproductive rights. Manchin's defection is easy to explain: he is up for re-election in a conservative state that Trump won by 42 points, so effectively he is a Democrat only in name; he has to toe the sentiments of his conservative constituents to have any hope of being re-elected.
The California Democrat said that the judge's behavior showed "a man filled with anger and aggression". Mitch McConnell originally scheduled it for Saturday afternoon, but Republican Steve Daines has indicated he will attend his daughter's wedding tomorrow in Montana no matter what the Senate is doing. They also sought to paint him as a justice that would swing the court deeply to the right. He has denied her allegations, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct from two other women. The 53-year-old conservative judge is seeking to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who sometimes sided with the court's liberals on issues like abortion, gay rights and affirmative action.