Schumer decries McConnell's lack of bipartisanship on judicial appointments


McConnell's comments come as conservative groups press him to take more action on Trump's judicial nominees.

The Senate's top Republican, facing increasing pressure from conservative groups, is seeking to upend a longstanding Senate tradition in order to speed the confirmation pace on a backlog of President Donald Trump's judicial nominees. "Priority between an assistant secretary of State and a conservative court judge-it's not a hard choice to make".

McConnell has signaled that the Senate will devote more floor time to processing judges as the battle over the blue slip issue percolates.

And when nominees "come out of committee, I guarantee they will be dealt with", McConnell said. "Regardless of what tactics are used by Democrats, the judges are going to be confirmed", he said.

But the blue-slip practice is not guaranteed, he added, saying Grassley "will determine how to apply the blue-slip courtesy for federal judicial nominees, as has always been the practice", and would address "abuses" of the blue-slip process "on a case-by-case basis".

"The goal of the blue slip is to ensure consultation between the White House and home-state senators on judicial nominees from their states". But McConnell told the Weekly Standard recently that he will change the meaning of those blue slips. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), abided by the blue-slip tradition during his six years leading the panel under former President Barack Obama. Now it won't be honored at all.

The so-called "30 hours rule"-which provides for 30 hours of debate on a nominee-won't be overturned". According to the official site for United States Courts, there are now 149 vacancies. Only for two significant periods has the blue slip served as a one-person stealth filibuster, and technically doesn't work that way now.

In an interview with the Weekly Standard, McConnell, R-Ky., stressed that the use of "blue slips" - named after the piece of paper that senators from a potential federal judge's state must sign to indicate their approval - is a custom, not a rule, and that the use of them will no longer be enforced. Ryan Bounds, on the other hand, has been blocked by both OR senators, who claim that Trump didn't consult with them on the choice.

At the press conference, several of the letter's signatories offered suggestions for different Republican Senators to take McConnell's place as majority leader, but there was not a consensus pick. That's 207.5 days of nothing but predetermined chatter to endure for these positions to get filled, or roughly every other day between now and the end of the 115th Session of Congress.

It's true, the blue-slip tradition isn't all that hallowed.