Senate leaders in talks to wrap up August session

Senate leaders in talks to wrap up August session
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTSA agents protest government shutdown at Pittsburgh airport The case for Russia sanctions Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump blasts Pelosi for wanting to leave country during shutdown The Senate should host the State of the Union Dem senators debate whether to retweet Cardi B video criticizing Trump over shutdown MORE (D-N.Y.) are in talks to move a package of judicial and executive nominees Thursday so vulnerable colleagues can go home and campaign next week.

Several Republican senators say that McConnell has told them he’s trying to move a nominations package Thursday so that lawmakers don’t have to come back next week.

McConnell has advised colleagues that opioids legislation is likely to come to the Senate floor the week after Labor Day.

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A senior Democratic aide said leaders are “discussing” a possible deal on nominees but indicated the conversation is in the preliminary stage at this point.

A second Democratic source familiar with the talks said whether there’s a deal will depend on the composition of the package of nominees.

“It all depends on the list. There are 12 judges and five [executive branch] appointees that they want to do and so the question is who are the 12 judges,” said the source.

McConnell filed motions to end debate on those 17 nominees on Wednesday.

He told colleagues that the Senate will stay in session until they are all confirmed.

“No more obstruction, no more delays. It’s time to confirm them all,” McConnell said on the floor Thursday morning. “The Senate will continue to work right through August until every single one of them is confirmed.”

After a week and a half of a rare August session, lawmakers are eager to get out of Washington ahead of Labor Day.

Ten Democratic senators are running for reelection this fall in states President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' MORE won in 2016 and one Republican, Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump’s shifting Cabinet to introduce new faces Trump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 Progressive strategist says changing demographics will help Dems MORE, has a tough race in Nevada, a state that went for Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms Special counsel issues rare statement disputing explosive Cohen report MORE.

Five of them are running in states that Trump won by double digits.

Democrats facing tough races in states that Trump won by large margins would like to get back home to campaign, but other Democrats want to stay in Washington to take advantage of the national press attention swirling around Trump’s legal troubles, according to a Democratic senator and a Democratic aide.

Meanwhile, Republicans are getting tired of the nonstop barrage of media questions about Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell The case for Russia sanctions The Hill's Morning Report — Nasty shutdown fight gets nastier MORE.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Ex-Sen. McCaskill joins NBC, MSNBC Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (D-Mo.), who is up for reelection in a state Trump won by 19 points, said she’s ready to stay in Washington for another week of August session but acknowledged she has plenty of work to do back home, too.

“If I’m going to be home, I’ll be working. If I’m here, I’ll be working. So either way, I’ll be working,” she said. 

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Bipartisan group of senators will urge Trump to reopen government for 3 weeks MORE (D-W.Va.), who faces reelection in a state that Trump won by 42 points, said Democrats should agree to the package instead of spending another week in Washington fighting over nominees who are going to pass anyway.

“These judges came out of the Judiciary Committee with Democrats and Republicans both signing off and endorsing them,” he said.

He said he “absolutely” thinks the package should move instead of dragging it out another week so both parties can “yell at each other.”