U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) voted to advance the nomination to the Supreme Court.
Mr Kavanaugh denied the claim - and allegations that he drank to the point of memory loss at the time - in a feisty confrontation with senators.
Republican senator Susan Collins, who voted to advance Mr Kavanaugh, said she will announce her decision on confirmation later. And the two presidents who were impeached by the House, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, were both acquitted by the Senate.
Thank you for signing up.. "All the sympathy I'm seeing right now for Brett Kavanuagh, while she's being mocked, while she's being demeaned", he said. "We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy".
But it could also energize Democrats and women just weeks before the midterm elections, potentially imperiling GOP control of at least the House.
And those institutions, too, have fallen prey to partisanship and cultural conflict: Trump has thundered against football players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence, accusing them of disrespecting the flag and the armed forces.
A vote is expected Saturday. With Republicans clinging to a two-vote majority, one Republican voted to stop the nomination, one Democrat to send it further.
Immediately after that speech, Manchin announced his support, calling Kavanaugh a "qualified jurist" who "will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court". Minutes after she finished speaking, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jeff Flake said he could not support a full Senate vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation until a supplemental background check was conducted.
"Believe me I struggled with it for a long time", Collins said after her speech. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted no on the motion to cloture. She said on the Senate floor Friday evening that Kavanaugh is "a good man" but his "appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable".
Cella had joined one of many small, scattered groups of demonstrators who had assembled outside the Supreme Court building just before the Senate cloture vote on Friday morning. "And that is hard".
Under pressure from wavering Republicans, GOP leaders agreed to an extraordinary Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week that mesmerized the nation as Ford nervously recounted her story and said she was "100 percent" certain that Kavanaugh was her attacker. 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.
"I think that holds a lesson with any senators looking to break ranks versus toeing the party line", Rudnick said.
It remains to be seen how other red-state Democrats will vote now that Collins and Manchin have all but guaranteed Kavanaugh's confirmation to the court. Senator Chuck Schumer of NY, the Democratic minority leader, drew eye-rolling reactions in both parties for suggesting this week that the Senate could return the standard for ending debate on a Supreme Court nomination to 60 votes - a threshold abolished past year by Republicans, after Democrats ended it for lower-court nominations under Obama. But a change of heart by some lawmakers in the final vote would mean his confirmation could still be derailed.
Shortly after midnight (AEST), the chamber voted 51-49 to move forward with President Donald Trump's nominee.
Deeply coloring the day's events was a burning resentment by partisans on both sides, on and off the Senate floor. He accused Democrats of emboldening protesters: "They have encouraged mob rule". Trump said in a tweet. None of the people at the high school gathering where Ford said the assault took place have corroborated her account, Collins said. A few days later The Washington Post reported that "Kavanaugh and his allies have been privately discussing a defense that would not question whether an incident involving Ford happened, but instead would raise doubts that the attacker was Kavanaugh".
In 1881, Stanley Matthews, President James Garfield's pick to replace Justice Noah Swayne, won confirmation by a single vote, 24 to 23 (51.06%).
AP reporters Mary Clare Jalonick, Matthew Daly, Padmananda Rama, Ken Thomas and Catherine Lucey contributed.
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