With Election Day fast approaching and vulnerable Senate Democrats eager to leave town, Majority Leader McConnell had the Democrats right where he wanted them — pining so badly to get out of Washington that they would finally agree to confirm a host of Trump administration nominees they have long been obstructing. On Thursday, the deal was reached. Democrats agreed to unanimous consent on 15 judicial and 21 executive branch nominees.
Thirty-six nominees, in all. Well-played Mitch.
Of the 15 judges to be confirmed, three are appeals court judges. Two of the three, David Porter (Third Circuit) and Ryan Nelson (Ninth Circuit), are controversial enough that they received no Democratic support when the Judiciary Committee voted.
The 21 executive branch nominees include several assistant secretaries of state, an assistant secretary of defense, and deputy administrators for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and NASA. It’s scandalous that Senate Democrats blocked nominees for these key positions — nominees who had the votes to be confirmed — for so long.
One day, Republicans should return the favor.
Because unanimous consent means unanimous, any Democratic Senator could have scuttled the deal. And there was plenty of pressure on the more left-leaning members of the caucus to do just that.
Vanita Gupta, the hard leftist who headed the Civil Rights Division under President Obama and who now heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said that “turning the Senate into a rubber stamp for Trump’s takeover of our courts is appalling.” She and other left-wing activists blasted Democrats for allowing McConnel to “jam through” Trump nominees.
Democratic Senators took a more sober view. The appalling Sen. Mazie Hirono explained that “the elections matter, and I’d like to enable my colleagues to go home, and every day that goes by that they’re not touching base with their constituents is not a good thing.”
Even Cory “Spartacus” Booker could appreciate the common sense of this. The inveterate grandstander initially said he wanted “regular order” — in other words delay — for all Trump-nominated judges. He did not, however, block the deal.
The confirmation of the 15 judges will bring the total of Trump nominees serving in the federal judiciary to 84 — two on the Supreme Court, 29 appellate judges on the circuit courts and 53 on the district courts. Once all the new judges are sworn in, roughly one of every six circuit court judges will be a Trump nominee.
There are more Trump nominated judges in the pipeline. Many of them, I assume, will be confirmed during the lame duck session.