What is a cloture vote? Kavanaugh clears step toward Supreme Court

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In a cloture vote, the Senate voted following the FBI investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh

The Senate held a cloture vote Friday to send Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to a vote Saturday. What is a cloture vote and why is it important?

A cloture vote ends debate on the subject in question - a nominee, a bill - anything on which the Senate might vote for. A cloture vote essentially says there is enough information to make a decision. Discussion may continue after a cloture vote, but an affirmative cloture vote is a greenlight to set the final vote.

According to ABC correspondent Cokie Roberts, a senator's "aye" vote in cloture does not necessarily indicate support for the subject in question, but signals enough information gathered to make a decision. A no vote is typically a sure sign the senator will not vote for the subject in question, Roberts said.

On Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed cloture that puts a time limit on debate and pushes the Senate toward a confirmation vote.

Senate Republicans need a majority yes vote to confirm Kavanaugh after the FBI investigated several accusations of sexual assault and drunken behavior.

A simple majority of the upper chamber voted Friday to move forward with a vote on whether to confirm Kavanaugh to the high court; 51 senators voted yes and 49 no.

At least one senator -- Republican Susan Collins of Maine -- says her cloture vote to end the debate does not mean she will vote yes on Kavanaugh's nomination. She is expected to announce her decision Friday afternoon.

If all Senate Democrats vote against Kavanaugh, the GOP can only afford to lose one Republican vote.

One Republican -- Montana Senator Steve Daines -- won't be there. He's walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding Saturday.

That leaves Republicans Collins, Jeff Flake, and Lisa Murkowski, and Democrat Joe Manchin as swing votes.

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