Congress

Here’s why the Senate went nuclear for district judge nominations

Senate Republicans cut debate limits on nominees from 30 hours to two

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says Senate Democrats are engaging in obstructionism, making rules changes necessary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted last week to change the body's debate rules and further speed up the confirmation of the president's picks for district court judges.

Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cited what he called the Democrats’ “systematic obstruction” of the president's nominees as the reason for the change. Previously, district court nominees had taken a backseat as Senate Republicans pushed to get President Donald Trump’s circuit court picks through.

Trump has placed 53 district court judges on the bench since taking office, though none this Congress until the rule change. Those nominees had waited, on average, just over seven months to be confirmed — longer than all but one Congress since Ronald Reagan took office. (The exception was the final two years of Barack Obama’s presidency when his 18 confirmed district court picks waited an average of nearly nine months for the McConnell-led Senate to let them through.)

District judge confirmation speed

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