Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has backed off from his plan to push forward with cloture votes on 17 judicial nominees.
Instead, Reid struck a deal today with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to vote on 14 noncontroversial nominees by May 7. McConnell demanded that the Senate return to debate on a bipartisan small-business bill instead of enduring Reid’s 17 back-to-back judicial votes.
“I am pleased that Senator Reid has reversed his decision to force a series of unnecessary and contentious cloture votes on judicial nominations,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said in applauding Reid’s reversal. “The record demonstrates that claims of Republican ‘obstruction’ were simply false. Indeed, the whole episode was merely a political maneuver designed to distract the American people from the failed Democratic legislative agenda.”
Republicans reacted angrily to Reid’s initial move, noting that President Obama has already had 129 lower court confirmations, more than the 120 that President George W. Bush received in his last four years.
The average time from nomination to confirmation for judges was 211 days under Bush and 218 under Obama, though the current occupant of the Oval Office has had a Democratic-led Senate his whole term.
For 83 judicial vacancies, Obama has yet to nominate for 44 of the posts.
Reid warned last month that he would ask Obama to recess appoint all nominees after Republicans were infuriated by Obama’s January appointments.
“I urge Senator Reid to withdraw his recommendation that the President recess appoint additional nominees,” Lee said. “As senators we have a responsibility to uphold the constitutional prerogatives of this body, including our rightful role in providing advice and consent to the president’s nominations.”