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McConnell cuts deal with Democrats to confirm judge nominees

Posted at 7:05 PM, Aug 28, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cut a deal with Democratic leaders in the upper chamber to clear a slate of President Donald Trump's nominees, one of the top August priorities for the Kentucky Republican.

The deal, which permitted 11 nominees to be cleared immediately and another eight to be voted on next week, also will allow senators who missed most of their August recess to go home for a couple of days before many come back at the end of the week to say farewell to their colleague Sen. John McCain, who died last Saturday.

McConnell had canceled the August recess after being pushed by restive conservatives in his caucus to stay in session to approve Trump's picks and make progress on oft-delayed spending bills.

Many senators hoped the threat would be short-lived but after liberal Democrats bottled up the nominees and refused to relent, McConnell was forced to take time-consuming procedural steps to overcome the filibusters.

There is little the minority Democrats can do on their own to stop the nominees, because only a simple majority is needed for them to be confirmed. But Democrats were able to delay OK'ing some of the nominees at least until next week.

Democrats insisted on roll call votes for some of the picks, including Richard Clarida -- to be vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board -- who was confirmed 69-26, and Joseph Hunt -- to be assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice -- who was confirmed 72-23.

The Senate approved several judges by voice votes, a speedier tool when nominees are not considered controversial.

One of those judges was Terry Moorer, who was appointed by Trump to be a US district judge in Alabama's Southern District about a year ago.

In a statement, Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, praised Moorer's dedication to the Constitution and accused Democrats of "historic obstruction" of Trump's judicial nominees.