Se­nate ends stand­off on judges, jobs bill

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics -

Se­nate Re­pub­li­can and Demo­cratic lead­ers ended their stand­off Wed­nes­day over Pres­i­dent Obama’s ju­di­cial nom­i­na­tions and agreed to de­bate a small-busi­ness bill that both par­ties fa­vor in this pres­i­den­tial- and con­gres­sional-elec­tion year.

On the brink of 17 gru­el­ing votes in a row to fill va­cant judge­ships, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat, and his Re­pub­li­can coun­ter­part, Mitch Mccon­nell of Ken­tucky, an­nounced a sched­ule that would speed up the con­fir­ma­tion process.

Un­der the deal, the Se­nate would vote on 14 non­con­tro­ver­sial nom­i­nees by May 7, a dozen of them to U.S. Dis­trict Court seats and a pair to the U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals.

The deal came af­ter both sides sought to score po­lit­i­cal points and set­tle a Re­pub­li­can grudge against Mr. Obama for mak­ing ap­point­ments dur­ing con­gres­sional re­cess, with­out votes.

Mr. Reid and the Democrats com­plained that Mr. Mccon­nell and the Repub­li­cans were slowwalk­ing the list of nom­i­nees, even those arous­ing no ob­jec­tions.

Mr. Mccon­nell in­sisted the pace was rea­son­able and de­manded that the Se­nate re­turn to the small-busi­ness bill at a time when vot­ers of all stripes say the econ­omy is the No. 1 con­cern. In re­sponse, Mr. Reid sched­uled back-to-back votes on 17 nom­i­nees.

Points made, both lead­ers an­nounced a deal at mid­day be­fore the stand­off turned into a real fight that might have pleased their par­ties’ bases, but alien­ated a broader elec­torate hos­tile to par­ti­san­ship on Capi­tol Hill.

Un­der the deal, the Se­nate would con­sider two or three nom­i­nees a week be­fore May 7.

The nom­i­nees would fill Dis­trict Court seats in West Virginia, Utah, Cal­i­for­nia, New York, Virginia, Ne­vada, Louisiana, Texas, Mis­souri, Arkansas and Illi­nois. The oth­ers would fill va­can­cies on the 4th Cir­cuit, which cov­ers the Mid-at­lantic re­gion and the 9th Cir­cuit, which cov­ers the West.

Both sides claimed vic­tory in the deal, with Repub­li­cans con­tend­ing that Mr. Reid’s decision to can­cel the se­ries of votes means the ap­proval process re­verts to the sta­tus quo, and Democrats ar­gu­ing that the show­down forced Repub­li­cans to start to ex­pe­dite con­fir­ma­tions.

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