Sen. Mitch McConnell is coming under fire for breaking a 123-year tradition by pushing through President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, with critics saying he is ignoring the need for a new coronavirus relief bill to instead focus on packing the courts.
In the weeks since Trump lost the election, Senate Republicans have confirmed six of the president’s nominees to district courts, earning some sharp criticism. As Salon reported, one of those appointed was a 33-year-old attorney who was rated as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.
As the report noted, court nominees from presidents who lost reelection or whose party was defeated have not been confirmed since 1897, with the exception of future Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer being appointed to a circuit court position in 1980.
As Salon added, the push to appoint Trump’s judges during his final weeks in office comes as Senate Republicans have not moved forward on a new coronavirus package. McConnell has taken heat for the failure to bring his party to pass new legislation, the report noted.
“The House passed a $3.4 trillion package back in May and a $2.2 trillion compromise offer last month,” Salon noted.
“McConnell has refused to budge from his $500 billion offer, even though economists say the country needs at least 400% more in relief funding to get through the winter.”
McConnell has vowed to continue moving forward in confirming the president’s judges but has come under increasing criticism for not prioritizing a new stimulus package. Many Democrats have called out the Kentucky Republican for the lack of progress on a new deal to help Americans and businesses hurt financially by the pandemic.
Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans skipped town without passing disaster relief, after confirming 5 of Trump’s lifetime judges and naming a courthouse after Orrin Hatch.
Tells you all you need to know.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) November 20, 2020
“Reminder: a COVID relief bill has been sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk for 50 days while millions struggle to keep food on the table,” tweeted California Rep. Barbara Lee.
Others have used the lack of action from McConnell and his caucus on coronavirus legislation to encourage Democrats to turn out in the upcoming U.S. Senate runoff races in Georgia, which have the potential to flip control to Democrats. If the party can win both races, it would bring their caucus into a 50-50 tie with the GOP that would allow Vice President Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes.
“This is what Georgia’s senate runoff elections mean: strong COVID relief, $15 minimum wage, expanded healthcare, tackling climate change, addressing systemic racism and immigration reform – and removing Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader. Let’s do it,” tweeted Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
There could be some progress on new COVID-19 legislation, Newsweek reported, noting that both parties have committed to a new round of negotiations on a potential deal.