Leahy: Senate Republicans Must Prioritize Judicial Nominees In New Year

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, December 15, 2015) –The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed just 11 judicial nominees this year, matching the fewest number of nominees confirmed by any Senate in more than half a century. 

But under a bipartisan agreement negotiated by Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the Senate next year will vote on five judicial nominees before the February recess.  Four of these nominees are nominated to fill emergency vacancies, and three are nominees of color.

Leahy said the bipartisan nominations agreement is a positive first step toward filling vacancies next year.

“After a year in which the Senate broke records for its inaction on judicial confirmations, I am glad that Republicans have consented to a bipartisan plan to confirm these well qualified judicial nominees,” Leahy said.  “Because of this agreement, the Senate will be on pace in the first two months of next year to confirm almost half the number of nominees it took us this entire year to confirm.  The Senate must continue to build on this progress so that we reduce judicial vacancies.”

The five nominees the Senate is poised to confirm early next year are: Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo of Pennsylvania to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals; Justice Wilhelmina Wright to the District of Minnesota; John Vazquez to the District of New Jersey; Judge Rebecca Ebinger to the Southern District of Iowa and Judge Leonard Strand to the Northern District of Iowa. 

In addition to the five nominees in the agreement, there are 14 more judicial nominees pending on the executive calendar, all of whom were approved by the Judiciary Committee by voice vote.  These nominees will not be returned to the White House at the end of the session but rather will remain on the Senate calendar. 

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