Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the blue-slip tradition won't be allowed to deny judicial nominees a hearing and vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a Wednesday article in the conservative Weekly Standard, McConnell promised that "regardless of what tactics are used by Democrats, the judges are going to be confirmed".
In that piece (with just the sort of headline McConnell's team was looking for amid accusations from conservatives that he wasn't being aggressive enough: "Mitch McConnell Goes to the Mattresses for Trump's Judicial Nominees"), McConnell said he would begin prioritizing consideration of judicial nominees over executive nominees.
But McConnell's determination to abandon blue-slip approval is getting some push back from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, according to Politico.
"The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee will determine how to apply the blue slip courtesy for federal judicial nominees, as has always been the practice", said Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Grassley who confirmed the Iowa Republican doesn't intend to make changes.
Grassley has been careful not to tip his hand on the looming fight.
Trump himself has been critical of McConnell and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon is vowing to help recruit primary candidates to challenge incumbent GOP senators.
"The Senate has fewer and fewer mechanisms that create bipartisanship and bring people to an agreement". Dems plead for nursing home residents" right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks "fake' news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (D-N.Y.) said. The blue slips are one of them.
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The thing is: Even if McConnell wants to get rid of blue slips, it's not really up to him.
"Today's statement by Senator McConnell reveals his contempt for the institution of the Senate and the traditions of comity and respect that have made it work".
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate's top Republican, facing increasing pressure from conservative groups, is promising to upend a longstanding Senate tradition in order to speed the confirmation pace on a backlog of President Donald Trump's judicial nominees.
The number of federal court vacancies has risen to 149.
"Under Chairman Grassley's leadership, blue slips have been returned from home state senators on both sides of the aisle, including from seven Democrats for President Trump's circuit court nominees", said the statement.
The possibility of losing control of the Senate in 2018 has added to the concern among Republicans about the losing the chance to maximize the conservative influence in the federal courts. "This process has yielded hearings for 24 of President Trump's judicial nominees, including nominees for 13 district court vacancies and eight circuit court vacancies".
Democrats have few other tools to slow down or block a judicial nominee. "Mitch McConnell has been a failure in the Senate and has cost Republicans nearly a year of victories", said Adam Brandon, president of the group FreedomWorks. They did away with the 60-vote filibuster for lower-court nominees when they held the majority in 2013, and Republicans followed suit by ending the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees earlier this year. "The committee has scheduled a hearing next week for five additional judicial nominees".