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Senate Democrats Use Waning Majority To Push Through Judges


The Senate has spent a few extra days in session this week - a few extra days of Democratic control before Republicans take charge next year in the new Congress. It's given Majority Leader Harry Reid a chance to get even more judicial nominations confirmed. NPR's Ailsa Chang reports.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: Ever since Senate Democrats got rid of the filibuster last year for most judicial nominations, people wondered - how vastly different would the federal bench look? If you just talk numbers - a lot. About twice as many judges will be confirmed at the end of this year compared to last year. And Democrats got a small boost on top of that when conservative Republicans, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, pulled a procedural move that ended up lurching the Senate into session last Saturday - a day Majority Leader Harry Reid filled by processing more nominations. Many Republicans were fuming, but some of that has dissipated now. Here's Orrin Hatch of Utah.

SENATOR ORRIN HATCH: People make mistakes. People sometimes stand alone on some of these things. I admire that. I've had to do it myself from time to time.

CHANG: And others say Reid wasn't going to let the Senate leave anyway without jamming through more judges. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS: He was going to get those nominations confirmed. I think everybody needs to know that - conservatives and the liberals - they were going to move every nominee that was controversial.

CHANG: Reid wants to get another dozen judges approved before senators leave home for the holidays this week. Ailsa Chang, NPR News, the capital. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
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