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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

We saw fresh signs this week that Democrats won’t be able to stop the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. Axios spoke to the offices of the senators that the White House considers potential swing votes for the next Supreme Court Justice, and they’re saying all the things Team Kavanaugh would want to hear.

The bottom line: Even Democrats involved in the effort to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination privately admitted to Axios that there will have to be a major new development for them to have any chance of killing his confirmation. They say they need an explosive document, or a trainwreck during the confirmation hearings.

What they're saying:

  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a centrist who supports abortion rights, met with Kavanaugh for over two hours and said the two discussed abortion "at length." Kavanaugh told her that, like Chief Justice John Roberts who was confirmed in 2005, he believes Roe v. Wade is "settled law." Collins later was complimentary of Kavanaugh, saying the meeting was excellent and that she was very pleased with his answers.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-Alaska) communications director Karina Petersen told Axios that Murkowski, a moderate who also feels very strongly about Roe v. Wade, focused many of her questions on the fate of the case. Petersen says Kavanaugh confirmed to Murkowski what he told Collins, that the case was settled precedent.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va.) communications director, Jonathan Kott, told Axios that Kavanaugh repeatedly stressed "his independence as a jurist" during their meeting, and emphasized that he "takes into account the human impact of his rulings." Kott said most of their conversation centered on how Kavanaugh's rulings would affect health care, especially for West Virginians.
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) emphasized the importance of shielding the court from politics following her meeting with Kavanaugh, and said the meeting helped her learn more about his judicial record and temperament.

What to watch: Everything can still change during the confirmation process. Several Democrats have indicated they plan to aggressively grill Kavanaugh over whether he'd be willing to override precedent, and his feelings toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation — more specifically, whether President Trump could face prosecution while still in office.

What's next? A source working to confirm Kavanaugh told Axios they're spending this week on practice hearings — mimicking what his week will be like during his confirmation hearing in early September. "Similar cycles/times/hearings, etc.," the source said. "Very lifelike rounds of questions..."

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.