Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will significantly accelerate the pace of judicial confirmations next week, and has set up votes on five nominees that he plans to confirm “no matter how long it takes.”
McConnell, R-Ky., has faced mounting pressure from within the GOP to speed up the Senate’s consideration of judicial nominees.
Democrats have slowed the process with procedural maneuvers to prevent committee approval and to drag each vote out for days. That's made it hard for the Senate to get things done, since it has a very short work week — senators typically report for votes by late Monday afternoon and leave town on Thursday afternoon.
That is going to change, McConnell is pledging. To counter the congestion, McConnell is threatening to keep the Senate in session nights and weekends to move the nominees.
“This pointless obstruction is designed simply to waste time, not change an outcome, and it won’t,” McConnell said.
The move was praised by the conservative wing of his Republican conference, including Sen. Roger Wicker, of Mississippi, who is up for re-election. Wicker has been tweeting his demand to keep the Senate in session around the clock in order to move the judicial nominee backlog.
“I’m calling for the Senate to work through the night & weekends to confirm @POTUS nominees,” Wicker tweeted. “No more needless delays.”
The conservative group Judicial Crisis Network has also been ramping up the pressure on McConnell. The group was preparing to run ads urging him to speed up the process. McConnell has reached out to the group and the ads are on hold for now.
Next week, the Senate will vote to advance the Notre Dame law professor Amy Barrett, Trump’s nominee to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, nominee for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid, nominee for the Tenth Circuit; and University of Pennsylvania law professor Stephanos Bibas, nominee for the Third Circuit.
The Senate will vote on advancing the four nominees after taking a final vote to confirm Trevor McFadden of Virginia to serve as United States District Judge for the District of Columbia.
Democrats are likely to stall on at least some of the nominees. Barrett, for example, faced questions from Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., about her Catholic faith and whether it would influence her decisions from the bench.
According to a Republican leadership aide, McConnell will keep the Senate in session until the five nominees have been confirmed.
“The leader has made it clear we will be in session until all four are cleared,” a McConnell spokesperson told the Washington Examiner.