What Is a Cloture Motion? Senate to Cast Key Vote in Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation

The Senate will meet on Friday morning to cast a key vote in the confirmation process of Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The motion, called a cloture vote, will allow Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to end all debate on the judge and signals that the chamber is ready to move forward to its final floor vote on whether or not Kavanaugh should be appointed to the high court.

In addition to ending all debate on the motion brought before the Senate, the cloture process also establishes a 30-hour window before a final vote must be held. That rule eliminates any opportunity for opposing senators to filibuster and delay the vote.

The cloture voting process essentially allows McConnell to "plow right through," as he had said previously, and confirm Kavanaugh as soon as possible.

With the cloture vote being held on Friday at 10:30 a.m., senators will have to hold their deciding vote on Kavanaugh on Saturday, according to the cloture process.

In the past, in order for a cloture motion to pass in the Senate at least 60 lawmakers had to voice their support. Today, it would be highly unlikely for Republicans to garner the two-thirds majority needed to get Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

But in 2017, Republicans invoked the "nuclear option," which changed the 60 votes needed to just 51 senators for approval. Democrats also used the cloture rule many times when Barack Obama was president and Republicans held a majority in the Senate.

Republicans also used the cloture process to nominate Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, last year.

kavanaugh hearing swearing in
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on September 27, in Washington, D.C. The Senate meets on Friday to hold a cloture vote on the nominee before heading to a final confirmation vote. Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images

The cloture vote on Kavanaugh comes exactly one week after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the judge 11 to 10 and days after the FBI wrapped up its investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct made against the judge.

Jeff Flake, a key senator for Republicans to win the needed 51 votes, said he would not support the nominee unless an FBI investigation looked into the allegations of sexual misconduct made against Kavanaugh by three women. Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins joined in Flake's request for another background inquiry.

The investigation, allowed by McConnell and the White House, wrapped up on Wednesday night with the bureau giving senators an updated 46-page report. Flake and Collins seemed satisfied with the report, and are expected to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

But Democrats bashed the FBI's investigation, questioning why they failed to talk to Christine Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh. Ford was the first woman to publicly accuse the judge of sexually assaulting her over three decades ago and gave sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

If at least 50 senators vote to move forward with the nomination on Friday morning, Republicans will secure their nominee as Vice President Mike Pence can break the tie. The Senate would then proceed to a final vote on Saturday.