Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked one of President Obama’s three nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 56-41 on a motion to end debate on the nominee, Cornelia Pillard. Democrats needed 60 votes to overcome the Republican filibuster — GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks Overnight Health Care: CDC pushes for expanding HIV testing, treatment | Dem group launches ads attacking Trump on Medicare, Medicaid cuts | Hospitals, insurers spar over surprise bills | O'Rourke under pressure from left on Medicare for all Dem group launches ads attacking Trump's 'hypocrisy on Medicare and Medicaid cuts' MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRed dresses displayed around American Indian museum to memorialize missing, murdered native women Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump The 25 Republicans who defied Trump on emergency declaration MORE (Alaska) voted with Democrats.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It is unfortunate that Republicans have chosen to filibuster the nomination of yet another talented female jurist and dedicated public servant to fill a vacant seat on [the D.C. Circuit] court,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBernie campaign 2.0 - he's in it to win it, this time around Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Senate confirms Trump court pick despite missing two 'blue slips' MORE (D-Nev.), who voted against the cloture motion as a procedural move so he can bring the nominee up again.

“Since a Democrat was elected to the White House, Republicans have blocked two exceedingly qualified female nominees to the D.C. Circuit.”

Republicans had already blocked one of Obama’s other nominees to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which has three vacancies. They say the president is trying to “pack” the court with liberals that will “rubber-stamp” his agenda.

Republicans have also argued that the D.C. Circuit Court doesn’t need 11 seats because the eight judges currently serving have low caseloads and that two of the seats should be moved to other appellate courts that have higher caseloads and judicial emergencies. 

“The court’s caseload makes clear that the court’s work load doesn’t justify additional judges,” Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' Drug prices are a matter of life and death Senate panel to hear from pharmacy middlemen on drug prices MORE (R-Iowa) said ahead of the vote. “Especially when it costs American taxpayers $1 million a year per judge.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCitizens lose when partisans play politics with the federal judiciary Senate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen Patrick Leahy sits at center of partisan judicial nominations MORE (D-Vt.) said that argument doesn’t pass the “giggle test.”

Some Democrats have argued that the Republican obstruction is politically motivated and sexist. The two other nominees that Republicans have blocked — Caitlin Halligan and Patricia Millett — were also women. Halligan's nomination was withdrawn by Obama earlier this year.

“Just stand up and say you don’t want women on this court,” Leahy said. “Don’t give me a bunch of folderol on cost.”

Grassley said it was “offensive” that Democrats would say Republicans are blocking the nominees because of their gender.