WASHINGTON — While Solicitor General Elena Kagan remains almost a dead-certain lock to be confirmed, and likely sometime before the August recess, as of right now she’s down in the vote count 2-9.
Al Franken was the first senator to commit to voting yes, which he did during a news conference call while in Vietnam. Sen. Mark Udall, a freshman Democrat from Colorado, is the only other committed yes vote so far.
Nine Republicans, all of whom opposed Sonia Sotomayor, are now on record as saying they’ll oppose Kagan, according to National Journal’s The Hotline, which is tracking official statements of commitment and opposition.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar hasn’t yet made her vote official, but she like almost every Democrat is expected to vote yes. In a news conference to promote Kagan held before the confirmation hearings began, Klobuchar concluded with the line “And that’s why it’s so important to add Elena Kagan to the bench.”
The one question mark on the D side of the aisle is Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who opposed Kagan for solicitor general last year when he was still a Republican.
Specter is a Judiciary Committee member, but with a five-vote Democrat advantage on that panel, even if he flips and Republicans unite against her she’d still clear committee easily in a vote likely to come early next week. And given the Dems’ 58-41 advantage in the Senate, confirmation isn’t a question, if she gets that far.
The lingering question remains: Who from the GOP will buck the emerging party line and beat back a filibuster attempt, if one is launched?
Eight Republican senators remain of the nine who backed Sotomayor (Florida’s Mel Martinez was replaced by George LeMieux). USA Today surveyed each of their offices and found none willing to commit either yes or no at the moment.