McConnell tees up Barr nomination for next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Chances for disaster aid deal slip amid immigration fight MORE (R-Ky.) is turning the Senate toward the confirmation of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 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) ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats Labor head warns of 'frightening uptick' in black lung disease among miners MORE (D-W.Va.), haven't yet said how they will vote.