The Senate approved a package of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees Thursday, notching another 15 confirmations just days after Justice Brett Kavanaugh was installed on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The confirmations came as half a dozen Democratic lawmakers, particularly those in red states, were pressed to return home to defend their Senate seats for the final stretch before the November midterm elections.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seized on the opportunity and made Democrats an offer: let the Senate adjourn until after the election, provided Democrats don’t force the full 30 hours of debate allowed for each nominee.
Democratic leaders were left at an impasse: They could keep their caucus in the Capitol to oppose the nominees — effectively ceding the campaign trail to Republican challengers — or confirm Trump’s judges briskly and risk alienating their supporters.
Democrats elected the latter course, to the relief of vulnerable senators who said the nominees would have been confirmed before the election anyway.
“If we stayed here for two or three weeks, we’d probably have done the same thing,” Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana told Politico. “I think it’s good.”
Still, condemnation from progressive interest groups was swift.