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 TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job 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."
 
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week How the border deal came together MORE (R-Texas) added that McConnell had offered a deal on group of "not particularly controversial" nominees and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall MORE (D-N.Y.) was "key" to letting red and purple state Democrats return to their home states. 
 
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. 
 
Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech MORE (R-Iowa) said earlier Thursday that the Senate should stay in session until it finishes all 49 judicial nominations currently ready for a floor vote. 
 
"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. 
 
 
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 KavanaughConstitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Kavanaugh shows his stripes on Supreme Court's 'shadow docket' Ginsburg back at Supreme Court 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.
 
Ten Democratic senators are running for reelection this fall in states Trump won in 2016 compared to one Republican, Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds MORE (Nev.), who is running in a state won by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants MORE
 
In addition to Heitkamp, Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Senate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill: Lindsey Graham 'has lost his mind' Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government MORE (Mo.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms MORE (Fla.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterHow the border deal came together GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration Border talks stall as another shutdown looms 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 ReidConstitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Klobuchar: 'I don't remember' conversation with Reid over alleged staff mistreatment Dems wary of killing off filibuster 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.