Senate heads home to campaign after deal on Trump nominees
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The Senate left town on Thursday night until after the November midterm election with Republicans securing a deal on dozens of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE's nominees on their way out the door. 
 
The Senate approved three dozen nominations, including a deal on 15 judicial picks, several of them by voice vote or unanimous consent.

The agreement allowed senators to wrap up their work weeks ahead of schedule. Senators was expected to stay in session until Oct. 26; instead, they're leaving Thursday and won't return to Washington, D.C., until Nov. 13. 
 
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The Senate's next vote is scheduled to occur on Nov. 13 at 5:30 p.m. on a Coast Guard reauthorization bill. 
 
With the Senate leaving, and the Home out of town since late September, Congress is kicking several issues until the lame-duck including criminal justice reform, election security, the farm bill and a fight over Trump's controversial border wall. 
 
But Senate Republicans have put a premium on their ability to confirm Trump's nominees ahead of the Nov. 6 election, arguing the chamber is in the "personnel business" and GOP-control of the Senate is key in order to get the administration's picks cleared. 
 
With Thursday's deal, roughly one out of every six of the country's circuit judges were appointed by Trump. 
 
McConnell hinted for weeks that he wanted additional nominations cleared before the Senate left for October and Republicans describe the GOP leader as determined to get a deal in exchange for letting vulnerable incumbents leave early. 
 
"He's as mad as a mama wasp," said GOP Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.). "He's as serious as four heart attacks and a stroke."
 
 
McConnell views confirming Trump's judicial picks, particularly circuit court nominees, as his top priority and has dedicated weeks of Senate floor time to getting them through. 
 
Republicans broke a record in July for the number of appeals judges confirmed during a president's first two years. As of Thursday they had confirmed a total of 84 of Trump's judicial nominees. 
 
And the agreement is short of the number of judges some Republican senators wanted to get approved before the chamber left for the midterm election. 
 
 
"Lots of work to do Senate [should] stay in session til ALL 49 judges are CONFIRMED / work comes [before] campaigning," Grassley said in a tweet
 
He subsequently predicted the Senate would pass the rest of the nominations in the lame-duck session. 
 
The agreement is a boon for Democrats by letting them get their vulnerable incumbents back to their home states and on the campaign trail during the crucial closing stretch of the midterm election. Democratic Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (N.D.) missed Thursday's votes. 
 
Democrats have several vulnerable incumbents running for reelection in red and purple states won by Trump in 2016. But senators have been stuck in D.C. amid an unusually busy Senate schedule, including a protracted fight over Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughCook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' Sen. Susan Collins: Israel should allow Omar, Tlaib to visit The return of Ken Starr MORE's Supreme Court nomination.
 
"I guess they can't go raise money and campaign, but really the keys are in their hand. They can get out of here as soon as they agree to a reasonable number of nominees," Cornyn said, asked about the impact that staying in Washington, D.C., has on senators up for reelection.
 
 
In addition to Heitkamp, Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump vows to 'always uphold the Second Amendment' amid ongoing talks on gun laws White House eyes September action plan for gun proposals Trump phoned Democratic senator to talk gun control MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Mo.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups MORE (Fla.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown MORE (Mont.) are facing tough reelection bids. Nelson was back in Florida on Thursday as the state deals with the damage from Hurricane Michael. 
 
Manchin said Thursday that it would be "good" for senators to be back in their states campaigning if they were able to. 
 
"It's always a good thing if we can be home campaigning," Manchin said. "We need to do that."
 
And members of the caucus's liberal wing acknowledged that they were in the minority, leaving them unable to block Trump's nominations unless they could sway a few Republican senators as well as keep their own caucus united. 
 
But the agreement drew fire from progressive outside groups, who lashed out at Democrats and accused them of passively letting Republicans "jam" Trump's judicial nominations into lifetime court appointments. 
 
Adam Jentleson, an aide for former Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason Reid2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Panel: How Biden's gaffes could cost him against Trump MORE (D-Nev.), said it was "false" that Democrats had to pick between the nominations package and allowing Democrats to go back home and campaign. 
 
"However, the valid counterargument is that while Dem senators facing re-election could go home, they'd either have to miss votes or travel back and forth," he added
 
Chris Kang, the counsel for Demand Justice, blasted Democrats as "passive" and warned that progressives were "not going to tolerate this kind of weakness much longer." 
 
"This deal was totally unnecessary and it is a bitter pill to swallow so soon after the Kavanaugh fight that so many progressive activists poured their hearts and souls into. This period will be long remembered not just for the historic number of judges Trump has been able to confirm, but also because of how passive Democrats were in response," he said.