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- Republicans and Democrats in the Senate cut a deal to vote on 15 judicial nominations Thursday so the senators could return to their home states for the final stretch of the campaign.
- Senate Democrats up for reelection in red states feared they could be kept in Washington while their Republican challengers ran free in their respective states.
- The rapid confirmation of judges comes days after the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination gripped Washington and brought the Senate to a standstill.
WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans and Democrats reached a deal to confirm a slew of judicial nominations on Thursday, allowing senators up for reelection to return to their home states for the final stretch of the 2018 midterm campaign season.
Fresh off the long and tumultuous confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was prepared to force Democrats’ hands and keep them in Washington for weeks to confirm 15 judges sitting in limbo. But Senate Democrats, many of whom are facing tough reelection battles in conservative-leaning states, did not want to risk being stuck on Capitol Hill while their challengers roamed free.
Thursday afternoon the Senate took up all 15 nominations, consisting of 12 district judges and three circuit judges.
Liberal activist groups opposed to more Republican judicial confirmations were furious with the prospect of another deal that would place more judges on the bench who have been handpicked by President Donald Trump.
“We expect senators to work, to fight for us and to stand up for what is right – not catch the first flight out of DC so they can advance their personal political standing,” Shaunna Thomas, the executive director of the women’s group UltraViolet, told Politico.
The move comes after a long confirmation battle over Kavanaugh, one that had senators at one another’s throats and resulted in such heightened tensions on Capitol Hill that some lawmakers were given additional security detail.
“It’s time to put this embarrassing spectacle behind us,” McConnell said before Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “The American people are sick of the display that’s been put on here in the United States Senate in the guise of a confirmation process.”
And keeping vulnerable Democrats in Washington was not something about which McConnell was likely to be bluffing. Earlier this year, he canceled the scheduled August recess to confirm more judicial nominations, forcing Democrats to work through the dog days of summer.