Blinken to meet with Russian foreign minister amid tensions over Ukraine
Nearly 100 Trump nominees must be resubmitted
About 100 of President Trump's nominees will have to be resubmitted for approval next year after the Senate left town for the rest of the year on Thursday without completing work on them.
The stalled nominees include Alex Azar, who Trump tapped to lead the Department of Health and Human Services; KT McFarland, who is being considered for ambassador to Singapore; and Kathleen Hartnett White, one of Trump's most controversial environmental picks.
Senate rules require that at the end of the first session, any nominees who have not yet been confirmed are sent back to the White House, unless the Senate votes unanimously to carry the nominations over.
The fight over nominations has been a battle between Democrats and Republicans throughout the year. Because Democrats changed the filibuster rules when they controlled the chamber, it only takes a majority vote to confirm nominees, who cannot be filibustered.
But each nominee still takes time, and delays have contributed to the load of nominees who have yet to move forward.
All of the nominees can be resubmitted by the White House next year.
A handful of them may not be, however.
McFarland has come under scrutiny over her contacts with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. There are real doubts that the Senate will vote to confirm her.
The sheer number of nominees sent back to the White House this year is unprecedented.
Only eight of former President Obama's nominees, and two of former President George W. Bush's, were sent back during their first years, according to Politico.
"It definitely violates precedent," Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) told Politico. "That's just a sign of the times that people are looking for a rule to be able to slow the Senate down even more. ... That's making a bad situation worse."