Senate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump's court picks

Senate Republicans confirmed President Trump's 12th federal appeals judge nominee on Thursday, setting a record for the number of circuit picks confirmed in a president's first year.

Senators voted 55-43 on James Ho's nomination to be a judge for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, making him the first Asian-American on the court.

He's the third circuit court pick Republicans confirmed this week and Trump's 12th appeals pick to be confirmed this year - the most any president has gotten in his first year since the court was created in 1891.

By comparison, former President Obama got three appellate judges confirmed in his first year and former President George W. Bush got six confirmed. Meanwhile, former presidents Kennedy and Nixon both got 11 confirmed during their first year.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) noted from the Senate floor that Republicans were having a "historic week."

"The Senate will take another important step to ensure that the federal judiciary fulfills its proper role in our constitutional system. Each of them will be an asset to our nation's courts," he said ahead of Ho's vote.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) knocked Republicans on Thursday, saying the nominations are being "rammed through the process" at a "stunning" speed.

"In a way, circuit courts serve as the de facto Supreme Court to the vast majority of individuals who bring cases. They are the last word," she said.

In addition to Ho, the Senate confirmed Don Willett to be on the 5th Circuit and Leonard Steven Grasz to be a United States Circuit Judge for the 8th Circuit.

Republicans have been slow to score legislative and political victories this year, but they've increasingly pointed to the courts as a key long-term win for their party.

Judicial nominations only require a simple majority to be confirmed, meaning Democrats aren't able to block Trump's nominees on their own.

Lead by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Democrats got rid of the 60-vote filibuster for lower-court nominees. Republicans nixed the same hurdle for Supreme Court picks earlier this year.

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