The Senate remained in session Friday night and into early Saturday morning, ahead of a Saturday afternoon vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The Senate voted 51-49 on Friday morning to move forward with Kavanaugh’s nomination, paving the way for a final vote on Saturday.
But lawmakers had 30 hours to continue debating his nomination before holding the final vote, which prompted the Senate to remain in session overnight. Lawmakers continued to debate Kavanaugh’s nomination Saturday morning, including speeches from Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Jack Reed of Rhode Island early Saturday.
Kavanaugh has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, including Christine Blasey Ford, who claims Kavanaugh forced himself onto her in the 1980s at a high school party, and Deborah Ramirez, who claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a college party when they were freshmen at Yale University. Kavanaugh has denied all allegations.
The FBI conducted a supplementary background check into the allegations, but Democrats have been critical of the probe and have argued that not enough witnesses were interviewed. White House spokesman Raj Shah said during an interview with CNN on Thursday morning that the FBI had interviewed nine sources.
Even so, it is expected that Kavanaugh will be confirmed on Saturday, as Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced Friday that they are planning to vote for Kavanaugh.
Collins, who was one of the key swing votes in Kavanaugh's confirmation, revealed on the Senate floor Friday afternoon that she believed Ford's testimony was "sincere" and "compelling," but noted that due process should not be ignored.
“Certain fundamental legal principles about due process, the presumption of innocence and fairness do bear on my thinking, and I cannot abandon them,” Collins said.
“We will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness,” she added.
First lady Melania Trump took time out of her trip to Africa to offer praise for Kavanaugh ahead of the final vote.
She told reporters traveling with her in Egypt that, "I think he's highly qualified for the Supreme Court," per the Associated Press, and said that she was glad and say she was glad both Kavanaugh and Ford, got to tell their stories. The two testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
The Senate is expected to confirm Kavanaugh on Saturday.
The final vote is expected to start sometime after 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.