The Senate is bracing for an end-of-the-year brawl over President Trump‘s judicial nominations.
Republicans view filling the lifetime court seats as their top priority and are expected to confirm as many nominees as possible before the Senate adjourns for the year, infuriating Democrats and their allies who are powerless to stop Trump’s picks.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is already teeing up votes for two nominations — Jonathan Kobes to be an 8th Circuit Court judge and Thomas Farr to be a district court judge — for when senators return from their Thanksgiving recess.
And Republicans expect McConnell to barrel through more nominations before Dec. 14, the chamber’s target date to wrap up their work for the year.
“That’s Sen. McConnell’s No. 1 priority is to continue to move judges,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the second-ranking Republican.
There are 35 judicial nominees available for votes on the Senate calendar, leaving more nominations than days left in the Senate’s work schedule to confirm the picks.
McConnell has pledged that he will move each of Trump’s nominees who are out of committee by the end of the year. If he’s going to make good on that plan, he’ll either need a final nominations package or keep the Senate in session through the holidays.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said McConnell has pledged he won’t leave any court nominees behind, adding that it was up to Democrats to determine when they wanted to leave town.
“It’s really up to them whether they want to confirm those on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, or whether they want to confirm them earlier in December by yielding back the time,” Cotton told radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Republicans have been confirming Trump’s judicial nominees at a rapid clip, setting a record for the number of appeals judges confirmed during the first two years of an administration.
McConnell recently touted the record number of circuit judges at the Federalist Society’s Antonin Scalia Memorial Dinner, adding that “there will be more before the end of this current Congress.”