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Judicial Nominations

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy

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Mr. President, as the Senate recesses for Memorial Day, I wish the Republican leadership had worked with us to clear the nominations that have been pending on the calendar for far too long. There is now a backlog of 26 judicial nominees awaiting final Senate action. Nineteen of the 26 were reported by the Judiciary Committee without a single negative vote from any Republican or any Democratic Senator on the committee. There is no reason, nor is there any excuse, for the Senate not having promptly considered and confirmed those judicial nominees. Two other nominations received only one or as few as four negative votes. That means that six of the seven Republicans voted in favor of Judge Wynn to the Fourth Circuit, and nearly half the Republicans on the committee supported Jane Stranch's nomination to the Fourth Circuit, as does Senator Alexander. Still Republicans refuse to enter into time agreements on those nominations, the four others or, for that matter, any of the 26 judicial nominations they are stalling from consideration and confirmation.

The Senate is well behind the pace I set for President Bush's judicial nominees in 2001 and 2002. By this date in President Bush's Presidency, the Senate had confirmed 57 of his judicial nominees. Despite the fact that President Obama began sending us judicial nominations 2 months earlier than President Bush had, the Senate has only confirmed 25 of his Federal circuit and district court nominees to date.

Federal judicial vacancies remain over 100 around the country. Yet 26 judicial nominations considered and favorably reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee remain stalled awaiting final Senate action. The Senate should vote on all of them without further obstruction or delay.

Before the Memorial Day recess in 2002, there were only six judicial nominations reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee and awaiting final consideration by the Senate. They had all been reported within the last week before the recess began. This year, by contrast, Republicans have stalled nominations reported as long ago as last November. Only one of the 26 was reported close to this recess. The others, more than two dozen, have all been languishing without final action because of Republican obstruction. This is not how the Senate should act, nor how the Senate has conducted its business in the past. This is new and it is wrong.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The clerk will call the roll.

The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin

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I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

Without objection, it is so ordered.