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Senate Democrats Use Waning Majority To Push Through Judges

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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.


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