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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

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House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

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The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.

The new grifters: outrage profiteers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Republicans lost the Senate and narrowly missed retaking the House, millions of dollars in grassroots donations were diverted to a handful of 2020 congressional campaigns challenging high-profile Democrats that, realistically, were never going to succeed.

Why it matters: Call it the outrage-industrial complex. Slick fundraising consultants market candidates contesting some of their party’s most reviled opponents. Well-meaning donors pour money into dead-end campaigns instead of competitive contests. The only winner is the consultants.