Just before the vote on Nguyen, Sen. Dianne Feinstein urged her colleagues to approve the nomination.
"If she is confirmed today she will be the first Asian female federal court judge," Feinstein said. "And I am proud to express my very strong support for her nomination."
Earlier that day, Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, reiterated an accusation made by Republicans that the White House has failed to fill a number of judicial vacancies around the country.
"Only the President can make nominations to the Senate," Grassley said. "While we have a responsibility to advise and consent, Senators cannot nominate individuals to fill vacancies. I would note the President has failed to do this in 47 of the 76 remaining vacancies, including 21 of 35 seats designated as judicial emergencies. That is more than 60 percent of current vacancies with no nominee."
Grassley also noted that the Senate has been approving a number of nominees each week.
"I would note that after today’s confirmations, there are 12 nominees on the executive calendar that might fall into the category of "consensus nominees." Seven nominees on the calendar had significant opposition in committee, and clearly are not consensus nominees," Grassley said. "The substantial majority of those 12 nominees were reported out of committee fewer than 10 legislative days ago."
After initially planning to bring up a nominee picked by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jay Tharp for the Northern District of Illinois, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) reversed course after being reassured that Tharp's nomination would come up for a vote, Durbin said. Durbin backed Lee and Kirk backed Tharp.
"I was going to make a unanimous consent request today to include Mr. Tharp along with Mr. Lee on the vote we're about to take," Durbin said. "There's only one reason I'm not, we've received an ironclad assurance from the Senate Republican floor staff that Mr. Tharp is going to be called on a timely basis during this work period. I'm going to hold them to it. I don't wanna embarrass anyone but it bothers me that the nominee of Sen. Kirk is being held up by the Republican side of the aisle when it should be voted on today. There's no reason why it should not be voted on today. We should vote for both of them. But because a word has been given to me by a staff member I trust, I won't make this unanimous request."
Durbin warned that he was still prepared to make a unanimous consent request.
"But I will say this, if something happens, I don't know what it might be, but if something happens I'm prepared to come to the floor and make this unanimous request, not only behalf of Sen. Kirk but on behalf of my state and behalf of my own interest to make sure that our federal judiciary has a compliment of qualified people," Durbin said.