McConnell tees up Barr nomination for next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP rattled by Trump rally Third Kentucky Democrat announces challenge to McConnell MORE (R-Ky.) is turning the Senate toward the confirmation of President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE's attorney general nominee.

McConnell, wrapping up the chamber's work week on Thursday, teed up an initial vote on Barr for next week after the chamber finishes a public lands package.

McConnell praised Barr, who previously served as attorney general to President George H.W. Bush, on Thursday, calling him a "tried and true public servant."

"Before us is a nominee who remains imminently well qualified to discharge these duties," McConnell said. "The Senate needs to act quickly to put Bill Barr back to work at the Justice Department. I hope and expect he'll be confirmed next week."

The Senate Judiciary Committee kicked Barr's nomination to the full Senate earlier Thursday in a 12-10 party line vote.

Democrats' path to blocking Barr, already uphill, grew more challenging on Thursday. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) became the first Democrat to say they will support Barr.

With Jones's defection, Democrats would need to flip five Republican senators and keep the rest of their caucus united if they want to defeat his nomination.

Several other potential swing votes, including Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-W.Va.), haven't yet said how they will vote.