- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday lined up votes on a dozen of President Trump’s judicial picks and four other nominees for administration posts, laying out the chamber’s agenda in the coming weeks.

The votes, which will come in sequence likely starting early next week, make good on Mr. McConnell’s decision to cancel senators’ vacation and work to fill out the president’s team in the executive branch, as well as approve conservative judges to the federal bench.

Among the executive nominations are Joseph H. Hunt of Maryland, who Mr. Trump nominated to serve as assistant attorney general at the Justice Department; Lynn A. Johnson to serve as an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, Richard Clarida to serve as vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Isabel Keenan Patelunas to serve as an assistant security at the Department of Treasury will also soon get a confirmation vote.

As of the beginning of August, Mr. Trump had won confirmation of 347 nominees, but 170 were still in the pipeline awaiting votes.

Republicans have put a particular focus on filling out the federal judiciary with the president’s picks. They’ve confirmed one Supreme Court justice, 26 circuit court judges and 26 district court picks.

Eight circuit nominees are still pending, as are more than 70 district judge nominees.

Democrats don’t have the power on their own to defeat nominees, given the changes they made in 2013 to filibusters. But they have erected unprecedented roadblocks, forcing Republicans to use the maximum allowed time on many of the president’s picks.

Mr. McConnell responded by canceling the summer vacation, forcing lawmakers to be in town to make progress on nominations.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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