Senate panel approves Kavanaugh successor on key appeals court

Senate panel approves Kavanaugh successor on key appeals court
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Senators voted 12-10 to send Neomi Rao’s nomination for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to the full Senate.
Most Democrats on the panel skipped Thursday's hearing. Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSchiff should consider using RICO framework to organize impeachment We need answers to questions mainstream media won't ask about Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Syria fallout MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, noted that under committee rules two members of the minority have to be present for a vote to take place.
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham says he shares Kurdish 'concerns' over cease-fire Majority of Americans believe Trump's Syria move has damaged US reputation: poll Senate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' MORE (R-S.C.) signaled that he would move to wave the panel's rules once every Republican senator arrived at the committee meeting, and questioned if Democrats were "playing games" by trying to delay votes on the judicial nominations. 
Feinstein, appearing to speak with staff, raised the prospect that none of the other nine Democratic senators would show up. But shortly after that Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsMeet the dog and 'sea turtle' who launched campaigns for office Senators demand briefing on Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria 2020 Democrats push for gun control action at forum MORE (D-Del.) arrived at the hearing. 

Though Republicans view appeals court judges as a top priority, Rao wasn’t a lock for being positively reported out of the GOP-controlled Judiciary Committee. 

Concerns from Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrump judicial nominee delayed amid GOP pushback GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Hong Kong dismisses concessions as protests escalate MORE (R-Mo.), a member of the panel, which were first reported by Axios over the weekend, raised fresh questions about Rao’s chances.
Hawley said he had been doing his "due diligence" for weeks on Rao, including two one-on-one meetings. Hawley met with Rao on Wednesday, describing the sit-down as "productive." 
"I will vote to move Mrs. Rao to the floor … and I look forward to the next stage," Hawley said during Thursday's Judiciary Committee meeting. 
Hawley hit back at his critics during Thursday's meeting, saying he was "committed to vetting every nominee." 
"I know that there are some inside this building and outside of it who would prefer that I do as instructed and go along to get along … That's not going to happen," he said. 
Hawley outlined his concerns about Rao in a letter published Tuesday by his office, including her writings on abortion and her "judicial philosophy and approach to constitutional law."
Ernst, on Thursday, called Rao's college writing "abhorrent and reprehensible at the best." 
Rao, who serves as Trump's regulatory czar, was grilled by Democrats and Republicans during her hearing about controversial college writings including a 1994 opinion piece for The Yale Herald in which she appeared to argue that women are partially to blame for sexual assault.
Rao wrote at the time that if a woman “drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was a part of her choice.”