Daines will use private jet to vote, if needed

HELENA (AP) — U.S. Sen. Steve Daines will take a private jet back to Washington D.C. on his daughter’s wedding day if Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court comes down to his vote, the Montana Republican said Friday.

Daines still plans to attend his daughter’s wedding back home in Montana on Saturday regardless of when the Senate schedules what is expected to be a very close final vote on Kavanaugh.

But if it appears Kavanaugh will not be confirmed without Daines’ vote, Daines has made arrangements to use Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte’s private jet to return to Washington after the ceremony, Daines said in a statement to The Associated Press.

“My good friend and colleague, Greg, has come to save the day. If I need to be in two places at once to walk my daughter down the aisle on her wedding day and to be the final vote to put Judge Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, he’s offered me use of his plane. I appreciate his generosity as well as his dedication to family and country,” Daines said.

After Daines voted to end debate on Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Friday, he tweeted that he spoke to the nominee on Thursday night and assured him he will be there to vote if he’s needed.

Daines’ tweet on Friday does not mean that his plans to walk his daughter down the aisle have changed, spokeswoman Katie Schoettler said. “The senator is 100 percent on his way to Montana,” she said.

Daines has supported Kavanaugh throughout the confirmation process and said there has been no evidence to support claims of sexual assault and misconduct made by Christine Blasey Ford and two other women.

Friday’s vote to advance Kavanaugh’s confirmation to a final vote was 51-49, with one Democrat voting for advancement and one Republican voting against it. Senators can still change their votes, meaning the GOP may need every single “yes” vote present to confirm Kavanaugh.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, who faces a tough re-election as Montana’s Democratic U.S. senator, has said he will vote against Kavanaugh.

Daines and Gianforte have been friends since the 1990s, and the two men and their families have camped and hiked together. Daines worked as an executive in Gianforte’s software company, RightNow Technologies, until 2012, when he won the U.S. House seat that Gianforte now occupies.

Gianforte sold RightNow to Oracle in 2011 for $1.8 billion. He became Montana’s only congressmen last year in a special election to fill a vacancy left by now-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

“If my good friend Steve Daines can participate in his daughter’s wedding and ensure Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, I’m happy to help for the sake of family and country,” Gianforte said in a statement.

The Bozeman Technology Incubator, which is owned by Gianforte, bought the Embraer EMB-505 jet in in August 2017 after selling another aircraft that had been chartered to third parties, according to the financial disclosure Gianforte filed with the U.S. House.

Daines has been a frequent flier on Gianforte’s jet. Daines reported taking six trips on the plane between August and December 2017, mostly flights between the Washington area and Montana, according to his financial disclosure report.

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