McConnell: Confirming Trump's judicial picks a 'top priority'
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPatagonia says to shut stores for a few hours during Global Climate Strike Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes On The Money: House votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November | Judge blocks California law requiring Trump tax returns | Senate panel approves three spending bills MORE (R-Ky.) is prepared to keep the Senate in town through New Year's Eve if necessary to confirm judicial nominations. 

 
ADVERTISEMENT
"We're going to continue to confirm judges all year. The Congress doesn't stop with the elections. It goes until the end of the year. ... I'm processing them as quickly as they come out of the Judiciary Committee," he said, asked how many nominees could be confirmed by the election. 
 
McConnell added that he doesn't "consider the Congress ending until Dec. 31." 
 
Republicans have been confirming judicial nominees for Trump at a frantic pace. 
 
They set a record in December for the most circuit court nominees approved during a president's first year. With 15 appeals judges already confirmed and six more teed up starting next week, they are poised to also set a record for the number confirmed in a president's first two years. 
 
McConnell added that, by appointing and confirming young judges to the court, Republicans are making a "generational change." 
 
"If I have a choice between taking up a particular bill or taking up a circuit court judge, I take up a circuit court judge because I think it makes the longest lasting contribution," he added. 
 
Republican senators have increasingly pointed to their ability to confirm Trump's nominees as a key reason they should keep control of the chamber during November's midterm elections. 
 
But they're also under pressure from conservative senators and allied outside groups to move faster. They want GOP leadership to change the Senate's rules to reduce the amount of debate time required to confirm Trump's nominees by a simple majority. 
 
The proposal from Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordElection security funds passed by Senate seen as welcome first step Senate committee approves 0 million for state election security efforts Democrats press for action on election security MORE (R-Okla.) would cut the amount of debate time required for most nominations after they've cleared an initial procedural hurdle from 30 hours to only eight hours. 
 
While the rules change wouldn't affect most Cabinet picks, Supreme Court nominees or appeals court nominees, it would further cap debate time for district court judicial picks at two hours. 
 
McConnell supports Lankford's proposal, but hasn't publicly weighed in on bringing it to the floor for a vote or what the threshold for passage would be.