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Published: Sat, October 14, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Schumer decries McConnell's lack of bipartisanship on judicial appointments

Schumer decries McConnell's lack of bipartisanship on judicial appointments

The Kentucky Republican has now confirmed he plans to move forward on judicial nominees even if home-state Democratic senators don't return the so-called "blue slips" to the Judiciary Committee.

No longer will "blue slips" be allowed to deny a nominee a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote on confirmation.

As of four hours ago, Fred Barnes in the Weekly Standard reported that McConnell is ending the "blue slip".

McConnell also made clear that he meant to keep making floor time that he would prioritize confirming new federal judges over some other mid-level Trump nominees, given the long-term significance of getting new conservatives installed in jobs that will long outlast the Trump White House.

The majority leader has been under pressure recently from conservative groups to get more court nominees approved by the Judiciary Committee-and more rapidly-and sent to the Senate floor. "Franken's decision not to return a blue slip, as was always done when Republican senators didn't return blue slips on President Obama's nominees", Feinstein said in a statement last month.

Specifically, McConnell said in the interview that when it comes to the "priority between an assistant secretary of State and a conservative court judge - it's not a hard choice to make". But McConnell's remarks on Wednesday set off alarm bells among top Democrats and allied outside groups. This, McConnell said, "is another reason to more quickly". "Chairman [Chuck] Grassley, who has always believed in the traditions of the Senate, will resist Senator McConnell's request", Schumer's statement continued.

It's not the first time senators have fought over the blue slip. The use of blue slips, he noted, is not a Senate rule and has "been honored in the breach over the years".

But with Republicans struggling to make good on their key agenda items - they have, so far, failed to repeal ObamaCare and there are early signs of trouble on tax reform - the courts offer perhaps the best path to the GOP and Trump securing a long-term legacy. According to the official site for United States Courts, there are now 149 vacancies.

Schumer said he hopes Sen. Ryan Bounds, on the other hand, has been blocked by both OR senators, who claim that Trump didn't consult with them on the choice.

Democrats have few other tools to slow down or block a judicial nominee. It is now holding up such nominees as AUSA Ryan Bounds of OR and state supreme court Justice David Stras of Minnesota.

So far the Judiciary Committee has held hearings for 24 of Trump's nominees, with a hearing for an additional five scheduled next week.

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