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Democratic senators pushing for vote on federal nominees

July 13, 2016

Some Democratic senators in the U.S. Senate Wednesday are calling for unanimous consent to hold a floor vote on the judicial nominations, including Winfield Ong who has been nominated for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, on Tuesday urged her Republican colleagues to vote on candidates for the district and circuit courts whose nominations have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. In particular, she highlighted Donald Schott, the nominee from Wisconsin for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.  

Baldwin noted there are currently 83 vacancies on the federal bench, 29 of which have been declared a judicial emergency because of the caseloads. The Wisconsin seat on the 7th Circuit has been unoccupied for more than 2,375 days, making it the longest-standing vacancy on the federal circuit.

“The American people deserve full and functioning courts from the Supreme Court to our district courts,” Baldwin said.

Other Democrats are expected to follow Baldwin in pushing for a vote by calling for unanimous consent. This is a maneuver that can easily be derailed by just one Senator objecting to consent but it might move the leadership closer to putting the nominees on the agenda.

Glenn Sugameli, attorney and founder of Judging the Environment, a nonprofit that advises the environmental community and educates the public on federal judicial nominees, speculated the Senate could put the current crop of candidates up for a vote on the first day that the Senate reconvenes in September after its summer break. Such a so-called bed check vote would force members to get back to Washington and would be non-controversial since the potential judges have all been vetted by the Judicial Committee.

Ong was nominated by Indiana Sens. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, and Dan Coats, a Republican, in January and approved by the Judicial Committee in June.

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