Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struck a deal with Democrats anxious to return home and defend their Senate seats – confirm 15 more judicial nominees chosen by President Trump or stay in session and miss valuable campaign time.
Half a dozen Democrat lawmakers, particularly those running tough races in red states, had no choice but to bow to McConnell’s will.
Even CNN reported the deal as “a significant victory for McConnell,” resulting in three circuit court judges and 12 district court judges being confirmed.
With Republicans only defending eight Senate seats in the midterm elections, and Democrats defending 25, getting home to the campaign trail is a more critical need for the latter.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) explained that McConnell gave Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) an ultimatum.
Schumer, he relayed, was given “a list of nominations that are not particularly controversial” and told “if they will agree to dispose of them, then they’ll (Democrats) be able to go back home” to “raise money and campaign.”
Senate reaches deal on confirming 15 judges (3 Circuit, 12 District) as price for Democrats to go home and campaign
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) October 11, 2018
Senator Dick Durbin of (D-IL) denied that the candidates were without controversy, but the Democrat concession means they bit the bullet and essentially allowed judges they opposed to advance for their own political preservation.
Well done ‘Cocaine Mitch,’ well done.
Cocaine Mitch breaks them again. https://t.co/Y869FQvJcf
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) October 11, 2018
Progressive groups were none too happy about the ‘resistance’ party throwing in the towel.
“This deal was totally unnecessary and it is a bitter pill to swallow so soon after the Kavanaugh fight that so many progressive activists poured their hearts and souls into,” Chris Kang, chief counsel for Demand Justice, a liberal advocacy group, moaned.
“This period will be long remembered not just for the historic number of judges Trump has been able to confirm, but also because of how passive Democrats were in response,” he added.
The Senate has confirmed President Trump’s judicial nominees at a historic pace – 84 total, including Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, 29 circuit judges, and 53 district court judges.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) October 11, 2018
“In particular, the White House has filled the influential circuit court judgeships — the second-highest courts in the U.S. and last stop for many major cases — at a faster pace than his recent predecessors,” they wrote.
That report cited a rule change implemented in 2013 by Democrats that lowered the number of votes needed for presidential appointees and lower-court judges from 60 to 51, eliminating the filibuster and requiring a simple majority.
This seems… Appropriate. https://t.co/SpDPxjOPHz
— John D (@J_estOfDees) October 5, 2018
It was a move McConnell warned Democrats about making, with prescient comments on the Senate floor.
“You want to play games, set another precedent that you’ll no doubt come to regret,” he predicted. “You’ll regret this, and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”
He was right.
Democratic Senator Jon Tester was asked if he thought McConnell was playing hardball by making his party confirm conservative judges before they could leave to campaign.
All he could do was laugh.
“Honest to God, I would answer that question, but I’m going to let you guys do that assessment,” he said.
Our assessment is that McConnell is bending Democrats over a barrel to confirm President Trump’s judicial nominees, and sending them home battered and bruised before the election.