Susan Collins will vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

The US Senate girded Friday for a critical too close-to-call vote on moving ahead with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

The announcements by Republican Susan Collins of ME and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia ended most of the suspense over a political battle that has transfixed the nation - though die-hard Democrats insisted on arguing through the night to a mostly empty Senate chamber.

Now that Senate passed its cloture motion, the final vote on confirmation will sometime on Saturday.

At times, the two groups of protesters, both for and against Kavanaugh's confirmation, met in the hallways for heated arguments - including this one recorded by NPR's Barbara Sprunt, which at least ended amicably enough in a high-five.

"It's turned our base on fire", declared Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. In a second tweet, she cautioned that she was "not making any announcements" but was "deeply disappointed" in Collins' vote.

Democrats also challenged Kavanaugh's honesty, temperament and ability to be nonpartisan after he fumed at last week's Judiciary hearing that Democrats had launched a "search and destroy mission" against him fueled by their hatred of Trump.

In fact, during her 21 years in the Senate, Collins has voted for judicial nominees put forward by Republican presidents almost 99 percent of the time, according to a Globe analysis of her roll call votes. Vice President Mike Pence presided, his potential tie-breaking vote unnecessary.

Democrats said the allegations were credible and deserved a full investigation, while Republicans accused Democrats of using uncorroborated allegations to scuttle or delay the nomination - leading to a stream of angry flashpoints between lawmakers.

Christine Blasey Ford's legal team has released a statement from her friend Keith Koegler, who provided an account that appears to corroborate Ford's testimony accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not interview him. "That takes some backbone, '" she said, quoting Kavanaugh.

"My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any type of sexual assault in their life", Mr Manchin said.

Democrats and demonstrators vented rage and resistance but the Senate rolled toward approving Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination Saturday as President Donald Trump and Republicans approached an election-season triumph in the most electrifying confirmation battle in years.

Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford say their client is not interested in murmurings that Democrats may seek to impeach Judge Brett Kavanaugh if they reclaim the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections. Collins is expected to announce her final decision in a speech on the Senate floor at 3 p.m., ET.

Republican Senator Susan Collins and Joe Manchin, a Democrat, both indicated their backing for the judge on Friday, BBC reported.

During Friday's roll call, Murkowski sat solemnly and whispered "No" when it was her turn to vote.

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. As the tally neared an end, she spoke with Collins, a friend.

Kavanaugh's confirmation would likely swing the court rightward in its judicial leanings - but that's not what protesters have been most concerned with Friday.

McConnell said that defeating Kavanaugh would mean that "media bullying and mob intimidation are valid tactics for shaping the Senate". An appellate court judge on the District of Columbia circuit for the past 12 years, he pushed for the Senate vote as hard as Republican leaders - not just to reach this capstone of his legal career, but in fighting to clear his name.

Three days before Ramirez's allegations were published in The New Yorker, Charlton told NBC News that this former classmate told her Kavanaugh had called him, advising him to not say anything "bad" if the press called.

When Trump nominated Kavanaugh in July, Democrats leapt to oppose him, saying that past statements and opinions showed he'd be a threat to the Roe v. Wade case that assured the right to abortion.

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