Senate confirms district nominees for Maryland, Illinois


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In a voice vote George Russell was confirmed by the Senate for U.S. District Court judge. John Tharp, for the Northern District of Illinois, was confirmed 86 to 1. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) was the one dissenting vote.

"He's an extraordinarily talented individual," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of Tharp ahead of the vote on the nominees. "What is interesting about Jay Tharp is that every aspect of his nomination has been bipartisan."

Tharp was part of a deal between Durbin and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to confirm two judicial nominees with the support of each other. Durbin agreed to support Tharp's nomination as long as Kirk supported John Z. Lee, who was confirmed for the Northern District of Illinois a week earlier. Kirk, who suffered a stroke in January, was unable to come to the Senate floor to vote for Tharp.

Russell also received praise ahead of the vote.

"This judge, Judge Russell, has public service in his DNA," Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said ahead of the vote. "He's a devoted public servant, he comes with a great background, he brings together recommendations from both the public and private sector and I urge my colleagues for endorsing the nomination of Judge Russell and I ask their support in voting for him."

Both Republicans and Democrats have accused the opposing party of causing judicial vacancies either by stalling on confirmations or picking nominees that clearly would not have bipartisan support.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Democrats were wrong to accuse Republicans of obstructing judicial nominees. He noted that so far 25 more nominees had been confirmed during President Obama's term than all of President George W. Bush's time in office.

"The fact of the matter is that President Obama is being treated much more fairly than Democrats treated President Bush," Grassley said.

The Senate adjourned after it confirmed its nominees and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that a vote moving legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import bank would be held on Tuesday. The chamber gavels in at 10 a.m. 

—This story was updated at 6:47 p.m.