Senate

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 Hirono (Hawaii), Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Ben Cardin (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. 
 
{mosads}”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. 
 
The Senate’s top Republicans teamed up to block the Democratic efforts. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell objected to requests from Schumer and Hirono and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) objected to two requests from Cardin. 
 
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 Enzi (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. 
 
While 11 GOP senators have met with Obama’s nominee so far, senators are showing no signs that they support moving forward with his nomination. Only two Republicans — Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Susan Collins (Maine) — back giving him a hearing.
 
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who is up for reelection, said Tuesday that the GOP strategy is “without precedent.” 
 
“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. 
Tags Ben Cardin Charles Schumer John Cornyn Mark Kirk Mazie Hirono Michael Bennet Mike Enzi Mitch McConnell Susan Collins

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