McConnell Walks A Tightrope To Keep Collins, Murkowski And Flake In The Fold

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks from the chamber to his office during a long series of votes at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is currently engaged in a delicate balancing act.

He’s trying to push ahead with a timeline that would mean a vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday, while also applying pressure gently enough to keep the moderate Republicans in line.

According to a Monday Politico report, McConnell is solely focused on the “gang of three” now and has ditched his “plow right through” rhetoric to keep Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) from crossing the aisle to vote with the Democrats.

But at the same time, he is invested in holding the vote sooner rather than later. Per Politico, he’d prefer to end debate in the middle of this week, hold a procedural vote on Friday and hold the ultimate confirmation vote on Sunday. However, that timeline depends on the FBI investigation being wrapped by Wednesday.

Though he may want to, McConnell would probably not risk ending debate before the FBI investigation is complete, to avoid alienating the three moderates.

This task may now be further complicated for him, since Collins has advocated for an FBI interview with Julie Swetnick, Kavanaugh’s third accuser who was initially left off the witness list.

According to a Monday Portland Press Herald report, Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark said that her boss along with Flake and Murkowski “advocated for the additional background investigation because she believed that it could help the senators evaluate the claims that have been brought to the Judiciary Committee. That would include the allegations that were brought by Julie Swetnick.”

Clark added that “Senator Collins was encouraged by the President’s statements that he would give the FBI agents the latitude they need to do their work,” referring to another likely headache for McConnell, when President Donald Trump indicated during a freewheeling press conference Monday that he’s all for giving the FBI more leeway in their investigation.

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