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McConnell Open to Breaking Nomination Logjam

The Senate approved a trio of district court nominees Monday evening, making a small amount of headway in a nominations logjam that could get far greater attention this week.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated on the floor after Monday’s votes that an agreement might be reached on clearing a package of as many as 60 nominees, probably Tuesday morning. The package would represent almost half of the more than 130 pending nominations.

With Monday’s votes, the chamber has cleared nine district judges this work period, which began after the Memorial Day break. Democrats have repeatedly complained about the slow pace of confirming nominees under the Obama administration. However, the recent progress highlights a bright spot on the issue, particularly considering Senate Democrats’ recent struggle to advance priority legislation, including a broad package of extensions of tax breaks and unemployment benefits. The chamber is grappling with that measure for a third straight week.

McConnell similarly floated a list of 60 names before the chamber adjourned for the Memorial Day break, but Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) put up a block. He wanted the list to include Craig Becker, who was appointed to the National Labor Relations Board by President Barack Obama over a recess in March but who has not been confirmed to a full term.

In his weekly radio address over the weekend, Obama expressed disappointment that GOP leaders continue to hold up 136 federal nominees who are “highly qualified” but who are being “intentionally delayed” for political reasons.

“I know the political season is upon us in Washington. But gridlock as a political strategy is destructive to the country,” he said. “So I hope that when Congress returns next week, they do so with a greater spirit of compromise and cooperation. America will be watching.”

On Monday night, the chamber confirmed Mark Goldsmith to be a U.S. district judge for the eastern district of Michigan, Marc Treadwell to be a U.S. district judge for the middle district of Georgia and Josephine Staton Tucker to be a U.S. district judge for the central district of California. Goldsmith and Treadwell were each confirmed by a vote of 89-0; Tucker was confirmed by voice vote.

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