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Post Politics Now With Romney and Murkowski’s pledged votes, Jackson has clear path to confirmation

Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks last month after President Biden introduced her as his Supreme Court nominee. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Welcome to Post Politics Now, a new live experience from The Washington Post that puts the day’s political headlines into context. Each weekday, we’ll guide you through the news from the White House, Capitol Hill and campaign trail with assists from some of the best political reporters in the business providing insights and analysis you won’t get elsewhere.

This afternoon, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said they’ll support the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, forging a clear path to Jackson’s confirmation and her ascent to history as the first Black woman to sit on the court. The two Republicans announced their decisions moments after the Judiciary Committee voted to advance Jackson’s nomination to the full Senate. Jackson now has the support of at least three Republicans in the full Senate vote — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said last week that she would vote to confirm her.

Your daily dashboard

  • 1:45 p.m.: Biden talked about jobs and infrastructure at a White House event focused on trucking. Watch video here.
  • 2:45 p.m.: White House press secretary Jen Psaki conducted a briefing. Watch video here.
  • 4:30 p.m.: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Jackson’s nomination. You can watch video of the meeting here.
  • 6 p.m.: House Republicans held a news conference following a briefing by the National Border Patrol Council. Watch video here.

Got a question about politics? Submit it here. At 1:30 p.m. weekdays, return to this space and we’ll address what’s on the mind of readers.

6:20 p.m.
Headshot of Lena H. Sun
National reporter focusing on health
A relative lull in covid brings agency action — Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky made clear she wanted to make changes when she began her tenure. She may be trying to take advantage of this moment in the pandemic — a relative lull — to get a review underway to address many of the criticisms. In the past, other directors, such as Tom Frieden, who helmed CDC from 2009 to 2017, have made structural changes as well. It remains to be seen how big or deep this revamp will be considering two of the three senior officials she is tasking to provide feedback are longtime veterans of the agency.
4:02 p.m.
Headshot of Matt Viser
White House reporter
Sullivan says attacks in Ukraine aren’t yet 'genocide’ — Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, has become a regular guest in the White House briefing room in recent weeks, offering the Biden administration’s latest thinking on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.On Monday, he came again, apologizing at the start, saying he had a lot to say: “My remarks are not going to be brief.” The latest attacks were “tragic,” he said, and “shocking.” But he said they were, unfortunately, not altogether surprising and, he added, didn’t yet reach the level of genocide.He said there would be additional sanctions announced this week. He reiterated unity among the West. And he said the latest intelligence shows that Russia is shifting its goals but not letting go of its aim to dominate Ukraine.“The next stage of this conflict may very well be protracted,” he said, a period that he estimated could be months or longer. “We should be under no illusions that Russia will adjust its tactics, which have included and will likely continue to include wanton and brazen attacks on civilian targets.”
12:32 p.m.
Headshot of Seung Min Kim
White House reporter
Graham goes where McConnell won’t — It’s a question I’ve wanted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to answer for some months: If Republicans take back the Senate majority and there is a hypothetical Supreme Court vacancy in 2023, would he give Biden’s nominee a hearing?In his typical fashion, McConnell has declined to answer. But Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C), who last chaired the Judiciary Committee when Republicans controlled the Senate, effectively said the quiet part out loud Monday morning during a committee meeting to consider Jackson’s nomination: “I’ll say this, if we get back the Senate and we are in charge of this body,” and there are “judicial openings, we will talk to our colleagues on the other side. But if we were in charge, she would not have met before this committee.”Graham, though, caveats it slightly by saying that it was Jackson specifically who would not have been taken up by a GOP-controlled Senate — especially since, as he said, there was another candidate perceived as more moderate whom Biden had considered. (Graham was clearly referring to South Carolina federal judge J. Michelle Childs, one of the finalists.) But Democrats have certainly assumed Biden won’t get a single judge confirmed if McConnell runs the Senate, and Graham’s comments Monday added a bit more evidence to that view.
10:54 a.m.
Headshot of David Weigel
National reporter covering politics
Some things have changed since Sarah Palin’s last run — The last time Palin appeared on Alaska’s ballot, George W. Bush was in the White House, Donald Trump was hosting “The Apprentice” — and she was urging voters to unseat Rep. Don Young (R).Palin’s last-minute entry into the race to replace Young, who died last month, shook up what had been a crowded but low-wattage race. So did Trump’s endorsement of her Sunday with a reminder that “she shocked many when she endorsed me very early in 2016.” As of Monday, 50 candidates had filed for Young’s open seat, and none had anything close to Palin’s name recognition, much less Trump’s.But Palin isn’t running in a Republican primary, the sort of contest where Trump’s endorsement has been most effective. One reason for the flood of candidates is that the June 11 election is the first to be held under a new “top four” system approved by voters in 2020.Every contender will appear on the same, long ballot, regardless of party, and the four who get the most votes will head to a second ballot Aug. 16. That will be the state’s first ranked-choice federal election, with voters rating their choices from 1 to 4, and votes being tallied up until one candidate cracks 50 percent support.
10:00 a.m.
Headshot of Paul Kane
Senior congressional correspondent and columnist
The week ahead on the Hill — Both the House and Senate launch a busy legislative week Monday, with the hope of departing Thursday or Friday for a more than two-week spring break after lawmakers plan to dig deeper into the Jan. 6 investigation and make history with a Supreme Court confirmation.The nomination of Jackson to replace retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer will dominate action in the Senate, where the Judiciary Committee is expected to deadlock Monday afternoon. Late Monday, Senate Democrats will use a procedural vote to bring the first Black woman’s nomination to the Supreme Court to the full Senate, then hold several days of debate before casting a final confirmation vote Thursday or Friday.All 50 members of the Democratic caucus, plus Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), have indicated support for this history-making selection. All eyes will be on Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to see if they add more bipartisan support.In the House, Democrats plan to vote out contempt of Congress citations against a pair of former Trump White House officials, Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino Jr., for refusing to cooperate with the select committee investigating the January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.Meanwhile, bipartisan negotiations continue, with Romney leading the GOP side, on a roughly $10 billion package of pandemic relief funds to prepare the nation for the next likely surge in coronavirus cases, to purchase more vaccines, testing capacity and treatments for the disease.
9:00 a.m.
Headshot of Annie Linskey
National reporter covering the White House.
The week ahead at the White House (which includes a return by Obama) — President Biden kicks off this week with splashy events on inflation and health care, an attempt by the White House to refocus attention on a domestic agenda which has been eclipsed recently by war in Ukraine.On Monday, Biden will give remarks on his efforts to attract more workers to the understaffed trucking industry via an outdoor event that the White House promises will be replete with “some big trucks.” On Tuesday, former president Barack Obama returns to the White House to talk with Biden about health care.Both appearances are designed to highlight ways that Biden is working to bring down prices. Polls show that inflation is a top concern for Americans and that rising prices are expected to be a major theme of the upcoming midterms elections. In Michigan on Saturday night, former president Donald Trump previewed the argument in a lengthy speech laced with references to high costs.The same polls reveal a small silver lining for Biden on inflation: Most voters don’t blame president for the price increases, with many citing either the pandemic or profit-taking by large companies as the culprit. But voters do want to see that Biden is trying to do something about the problem.
7:10 a.m.
Headshot of Robert Barnes
Reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court
Jackson could have to wait awhile before taking her seat — If Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed to the Supreme Court this week, she’ll be in the unusual position of being something like a “justice-in-waiting.”That’s because Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the man she once worked for as a clerk and whose seat she would take, said his retirement will take place at the end of the current term.That usually is at the end of June or early July; Breyer has one last set of oral arguments this month. Then the court will continue rendering decisions in all the cases it has heard since October, including a challenge to Roe v. Wade.