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 TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Schiff rips Conway's 'display of alternative facts' on Russian election interference 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 Cornyn Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Trump struggles to reshape Fed Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks MORE (R-Texas) added that McConnell had offered a deal on group of "not particularly controversial" nominees and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference 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. 
 
 
"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 HeitkampPro-trade groups enlist another ex-Dem lawmaker to push for Trump's NAFTA replacement Pro-trade group targets 4 lawmakers in push for new NAFTA Biden office highlights support from women after second accuser comes forward 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 KavanaughCory Booker has a problem in 2020: Kamala Harris McGahn's lawyer pushes back after Giuliani knocks his credibility Grassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump 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 DonnellySome in GOP fear Buttigieg run for governor Paul Ryan joins University of Notre Dame faculty GOP senator issues stark warning to Republicans on health care MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOn The Money: Cain 'very committed' to Fed bid despite opposition | Pelosi warns no US-UK trade deal if Brexit harms Irish peace | Ivanka Trump says she turned down World Bank job Cain says he won't back down, wants to be nominated to Fed Pro-life Christians are demanding pollution protections MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillBig Dem names show little interest in Senate Gillibrand, Grassley reintroduce campus sexual assault bill Endorsements? Biden can't count on a flood from the Senate MORE (Mo.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonTrump administration renews interest in Florida offshore drilling: report Dem reps say they were denied access to immigrant detention center Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances MORE (Fla.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) Tester20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall Overnight Energy: Bipartisan Senate group seeks more funding for carbon capture technology | Dems want documents on Interior pick's lobbying work | Officials push to produce more electric vehicle batteries in US Bipartisan senators want 'highest possible' funding for carbon capture technology 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 ReidSanders courts GOP voters with 'Medicare for All' plan Glamorization of the filibuster must end Schumer won't rule out killing 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.