Updated at 4:15 p.m.
In a wide-ranging speech on the Senate floor that lasted nearly an hour, Republican Sen. Susan Collins from Maine announced that she would vote to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Her announcement almost certainly ensures Kavanaugh's confirmation. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is the only Republican who has announced she will vote no on the confirmation.
Collins began her speech by noting that the confirmation process had "become so dysfunctional, it looks more like a caricature of a gutter-level political campaign than a solemn occasion."
Despite the process, she said, she had evaluated Kavanaugh's previous judicial decisions and said she was convinced he values precedent and the court's independence from politics. She also said that while she believed that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was a victim of sexual assault, she doesn't think that there is enough corroborating evidence to support her claim that the assault was carried out by Kavanaugh. She said she worries that "departing from this presumption [of innocence until proven guilty] could lead to a lack of public faith in the judiciary."
In the end, Collins said, "I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court."
The confirmation vote is expected sometime Saturday.
Collins' speech comes hours after the Senate narrowly voted to move forward with Kavanaugh's nomination, passing a procedural measure by a vote of 51 to 49.
The vote fell along party lines, with only two exceptions: Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted yes, and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted no.
Days of controversy and partisan clashes over Kavanaugh's confirmation have gripped the nation. Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by three women, including Ford, who says that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. She testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Kavanaugh also testified last week in an emotional and sometimes angry session, which many of the nominee's opponents say showed that Kavanaugh is partisan and does not have the temperament necessary to be elevated to the highest court in the land. His supporters, on the other hand, praised his performance and say he was passionately defending his reputation.
In an op-ed published Thursday morning by the Wall Street Journal, Kavanaugh wrote, "I know my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said." He defended his ability to be impartial, continuing, "Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good."
President Trump ordered an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh last week after Senator Jeff Flake said he would only vote to move the nomination forward if there was an investigation. GOP leaders say the investigation was thorough and shows no corroboration with the claims made against the nominee. Democrats have ridiculed the investigation, saying that the agency was given too many limitations and the report was not comprehensive. The FBI interviewed 10 people, according to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley of Iowa. The FBI did not interview Ford or Kavanaugh, nor the third woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, Julie Swetnick.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, said while her party had agreed to a week-long FBI probe with a finite scope, "We did not agree that the White House should tie the FBI's hands."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.