This week: Senate returns amid post-election uncertainty
Senate confirms Trump's 100th judicial nominee
Senate Republicans this week confirmed President Trump's 100th judicial nominee.
The milestone marks the latest victory for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who views the courts as the party's best shot at having a long-term impact on the direction of the country and who has made confirming Trump's picks a top priority.
"After studying and considering these nominees the Senate will keep on filing judicial vacancies. We'll keep confirming the president's team," McConnell said taking a victory lap ahead of the Senate's action.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Rodolfo Armando Ruiz II to be a judge for the Southern District of Florida, marking Trump's 100th judicial pick.
Lawmakers quickly followed with back-to-back votes on Raúl Arias-Marxuach to be judge for the district of Puerto Rico and Joshua Wolson to be a judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania - giving Trump his 101st and 102nd judicial confirmations.
GOP senators celebrated the milestone on Twitter. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the previous chairman and a current member of the Judiciary Committee, said Trump's nominees will read the Constitution "as written instead of what suits their political goals."
The slate of nomination votes comes after Republicans deployed the "nuclear option" last month to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to confirm most of the president's nominees.
Under the rules change, district court nominations and most executive nominees only require two hours of debate after defeating a filibuster and showing they have the votes to be confirmed. They previously required 30 hours of debate.
In addition to district judges, Trump's more than 100 confirmations include two Supreme Court picks, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, as well as 37 circuit court judges.
Republicans have set records for their pace of confirming Trump's nominees to the influential appeals courts. McConnell has teed up two more circuit picks for next week: Joseph Bianco and Michael Park to be judges on the 2nd Circuit.
Democrats have fumed over conservatives' rush to confirm Trump's picks, accusing them of bending the rules in order to get nominees on the courts.
In addition to going "nuclear" to reduce debate time, Republicans used the nuclear option in 2017 to nix the 60-vote filibuster for Supreme Court nominations after Democrats got rid of a similar hurdle for executive and lower court nominees in 2013.
Democrats have also protested Republicans moving nominations over the objections of home-state senators. Neither Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) nor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) returned a blue slip on the two circuit picks up for a vote next week.
Demand Justice, a progressive outside group, accused Trump and McConnell of "packing the courts" and noted that by this point in his administration, former President Obama had gotten 81 judicial confirmations.
"Trump and Mitch McConnell are packing our courts with extreme judges at a disturbing and unprecedented rate with little standing in their way," the group said.