Progressive outside groups immediately panned a deal Thursday on President Trump‘s judicial nominations, which is paving the way for the Senate to leave town until after the November election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced a deal on 15 nominations—marking one of the Senate’s final items on its to-do list before a weeks-long recess.
But progressives immediately argued the agreement was too soon after Democrats lost their uphill bid to block Brett Kavanaugh‘s Supreme Court nomination.
Chris Kang, the counsel for Demand Justice, blasted Democrats as “passive” and warned that progressives were “not going to tolerate this kind of weakness much longer.”
“This deal was totally unnecessary and it is a bitter pill to swallow so soon after the Kavanaugh fight that so many progressive activists poured their hearts and souls into. This period will be long remembered not just for the historic number of judges Trump has been able to confirm, but also because of how passive Democrats were in response,” he said.
The agreement was negotiated by leadership in both parties, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). And under Senate rules, any one senator could have objected to McConnell’s request to set up the Thursday votes—no one did.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, accused the Senate of “jamming through controversial judicial nominees without adequate debate.”
“Turning the Senate into a rubber stamp for Trump’s takeover of our courts is appalling. Our courts matter far too much to rush this process,” Gupta added.
Leslie Proll, an advisor to the NAACP, said Democrats were taking the wrong message away from the months-long Kavanaugh fight.
“We need them to resist at every turn [and] never be complicit. If Trump wants judges, Dems need to fight with every tool they’ve got, not grease the wheels,” Proll said in a tweet.
Marge Baker, the executive Vice President for People For the American Way, called the deal on judicial nominations the latest example of McConnell trying to “install ideological extremists and narrow minded elitists” onto the courts.
She added that no senator should have consented to the agreement.
“Allowing these confirmations to be rushed through as senators head out of town does a disservice to our democracy and the rule of law. If Republicans intend to move forward on even a single nomination in the lame duck congress, Democrats should make clear that they won’t stand by silently,” Baker added.
Republicans have put a premium on confirming judicial nominees, which they view as their best shot at shaping the direction of the country for decades.
McConnell and the Senate GOP caucus set a record in July for the number of appeals court judges confirmed during a president’s first two years.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said on Thursday that Republicans are taking over the courts and “stacking the deck” against women and families.
“Democrats allowed Mitch McConnell and Republicans in Congress to fast track 15 more of Donald Trump’s nominees. …Americans deserve better than deals cut at the expense of our liberty,” she said.
The agreement on nominations comes after aides and senators said earlier Thursday that they were negotiating on a slate of nominees that could allow vulnerable incumbents to go home for the crucial final stretch before the midterm election.
Without an agreement the chamber is currently slated to be in session through Oct. 26, roughly a week and a half before the Nov. 6 election.
And while progressives are fuming over the deal it will give several vulnerable Democratic incumbents running in red and purple states more time on the campaign trail. Senators have been stuck in D.C. amid an unusually busy Senate schedule, including a protracted fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.
Ten Democratic senators are running for reelection this fall in states Trump won in 2016 compared to one Republican, Sen. Dean Heller (Nev.), who is running in a state won by Hillary Clinton.
With a simple majority needed for nominations, Democrats can’t block them on their own forcing them to weigh the value of dragging out the procedural clock versus giving their senators more time to campaign.
But progressive outside groups want to see Democrats use any procedural tactics available to slow down Trump’s nominees.
Heidi Hess, a co-director of Credo Action, said Democrats could keep the Senate in session, but still let vulnerable members go back to their home states as needed.
Asked late last week about a potential deal on nominations, Hess said: “Do we think that Schumer should have not gotten played by McConnell in the first place and shouldn’t get played again? Yeah.”
Schumer received a blistering from progressive outside groups when he accepted a deal in August that let senators reclaim part of the summer recess
As chatter of the negotiations spread, Leah Greenberg, the co-executive director of Indivisible, said on Twitter on Thursday that Schumer should not make a deal with McConnell.
“There is no reason Democrats should be making any deals with Mitch McConnell to make it easier to confirm more radical conservatives to the courts. Especially not after Kavanaugh,” she said.