More than three dozen of President Donald Trump’s judicial confirmations have been left in limbo due to the Senate’s absence from Capitol Hill amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Senate is scheduled to return from its hiatus on April 20, but that date is subject to change.
Senate Republicans say they will get the judges confirmed as soon as they get back to work.
“If we’re not there, it’s hard to push them through,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., told Politico. “There have been several that have been nominated now for the circuits that have to have confirmation hearings, and that means we’ve got to be in session in order to be able to move them. It’s definitely affected the schedule that way.”
Before the outbreak, the Senate was quick to confirm the president’s judicial nominees.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told Politico the Senate will be back on track to confirm nominees if the chamber returns to a normal schedule soon.
“We can recover from that fairly quickly if we go back to our regular schedule. I don’t think it will end up making a difference,” Lee said. “On the other hand, if this continues — meaning if we don’t find some way some time soon to start having hearings and markups again — yeah that could complicate things.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., last held a nomination hearing March 4 and a committee vote March 12. Senators have been working at home since then.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told talk radio host Hugh Hewitt that judicial nominees remain a top priority for the Senate.
“Of course, we will go back to judges,” McConnell said. “My motto for the rest of the year is leave no vacancy behind.”
There are two nominations expected to be a priority for the Senate: Justin Walker to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the second most powerful court in the country, and Cory Wilson to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
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