McConnell tees up votes on 13 Trump judicial picks ahead of break
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Biden and reproductive health rights Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls MORE (R-Ky.) is teeing up the Senate to vote on more than a dozen judicial nominations as he tries to wrap up the chamber's work for the year. 

McConnell filed cloture on 13 of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE's district court picks on Monday, a procedural move that will allow them to start coming up for votes on the Senate floor as soon as Wednesday. 
 
Under a rules change implemented by Senate Republicans earlier this year, each nomination will be subject to an additional two hours of debate once it overcomes an initial procedural hurdle. 
 
It's unclear if Democrats will agree to speed up the votes on the judicial nominations. The Senate also needs to pass a mammoth defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and fund the government before it leaves town until January. 
 
A vote on the NDAA is set for Tuesday. The Senate needs to pass the government funding package before the end of Friday. 
 
Republicans have put a premium on confirming Trump's judicial nominees, including setting a record for the number of appeals judges confirmed during an administration's first two years. 
 
They've confirmed 174 judges so far, including 50 circuit court picks and two Supreme Court justices. McConnell, in particular, has argued that the court picks are the party's best shot at having a long-term impact on the direction of the country because they are lifetime appointments. 
 
Lena Zwarensteyn, the Fair Courts campaign director at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, knocked McConnell, saying he was trying to "entrench his terrifying agenda." 

"Today, McConnell filed cloture on 13 nominees, three of whom would not even state that the landmark civil rights decision Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided. Senators must see McConnell’s rush for what it is and reject his agenda to dismantle our civil rights through the courts," she added.