GOP blocks slate of Obama judicial nominees
© Cameron Lancaster

Senate Republicans blocked a slate of President Obama's lower court nominees Tuesday.  

Democratic Sens. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocratic senators introduce bill to block Trump 'public charge' rule Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Lawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator MORE (Hawaii), Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerToomey on gun reform: 'Beto O'Rourke is not helping' Schumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey MORE (N.Y.) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSunday shows - Trump's Ukraine call, Iran dominate Democratic senator: Pulling out of nuclear deal 'isolated the United States rather than isolating Iran' Senate confirms two Treasury nominees over Democratic objections MORE (Md.) asked for consent four times to bring up a total of 11 judicial nominations Tuesday, arguing that the pace of confirmation votes has created a backlog. 
"The judicial confirmation process has been at a crawl for years. Now it has come to a functional standstill," said Schumer, who is expected to be the next Senate Democratic leader. 
McConnell said the debate boils down to if the Senate is treating Obama's nominees the same way it treated past presidents' picks. He noted that at this point under President George W. Bush the Senate had confirmed 303 nominees compared to Obama's 324. 
Hirono fired back that the battle over the court nominees is about "the Senate doing its job." 
Democrats have repeatedly come to the Senate floor to try to move Obama nominees with little success. They note that since Republicans took back control of the Senate last year, senators have voted on 17 judicial nominations. 
Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Liz Cheney and Rand Paul extend war of words The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Democrats set for Lone Star showdown MORE (R-Wyo.) said neither Republicans or Democrats were wholly to blame, but "as long as the other side is saying that we're holding things up, I've got to point out that it's not just a one-sided thing." 
The back-and-forth on the Senate floor comes amid a larger, entrenched battle over filling the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. 
Josh Earnest, a spokesman for the White House, said Tuesday that Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland will meet with six senators this week, including three Republicans. 
"There’s a reason why no Senate has ever had the audacity to do what this Senate is doing right now, because of how clear that mission is," he added. 
Bennet met with Garland earlier this month.