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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

38 mins ago - Health

Florida records most new daily COVID cases in state since pandemic began

Nurses bring a portable x-ray machine to a treatment tent outside the emergency department at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, set up to serve as an overflow area as the number of COVID-19 infections surges throughout Brevard County. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida reported 21,683 new COVID-19 cases — the most in the state in a single day since the pandemic began, per data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.

The big picture: Florida is now the U.S. coronavirus epicenter, with the Delta variant driving a surge, Axios Tampa Bay's Ben Montgomery notes.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

Chart: Less than 0.1% of vaccinated Americans tested positive for COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC and state Covid dashboards. Dani Alberti/Axios

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, around 125,000 people have tested positive for breakthrough infections and 0.001% have died, according to state data compiled from state dashboards by NBC and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While "breakthrough cases" have been getting media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.

Biden officials celebrate infrastructure deal in fuel-cell big rig

White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm celebrated progress on President Biden's infrastructure package by taking a spin in a Kenworth fuel-cell, zero-emissions Class A truck.

What they're saying: "We have a deal, a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework deal," Granholm said. McCarthy responded: "it's big and it's beautiful."