There are some tense negotiations getting underway in the Senate, specifically on the Judiciary Committee when it comes to some more of President Trump’s judicial nominees. Or at least two California Democrats would like to think so. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have sent a request to the White House in hopes of cutting a deal whereby they will agree to a couple of Trump’s nominees to the Ninth Circuit if he will, in turn, nominate a couple of people from their list. (Washington Times)
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, both members of the Judiciary Committee, called on the White House Monday to make a deal to fill court vacancies.
The two California senators asked Pat Cipollone, tapped to be the acting White House counsel in October, to broker a deal over three 9th Circuit Court of Appeals positions.
“While we continue to oppose the slate of nominees the White House put forward on October 10, we remain hopeful that you will work with us to reach a bipartisan agreement in a timely manner,” they wrote.
The desire for a deal is certainly understandable, and arrangements such as this have been made regularly over the years, particularly when control of the Senate and the White House are split between the parties. But if you’ll forgive me for being so rude as to point this out, that’s not the case these days. Perhaps nobody stopped by to let Feinstein and Harris know about the results of the midterms, but the Democrats actually lost seats in the upper chamber. That means there are still going to be 21 members of the Judiciary Committee and eleven of them will be Republicans. With the departure of Jeff Flake, there will be even fewer headwinds for Trump’s nominees to make it out of committee.
So why would the President have to make a deal on any of the nominees? There was a time when things were more friendly in the Senate, but now the Democrats rarely cast a vote in favor of any of Trump’s candidates. He doesn’t exactly owe them a great deal of courtesy in these matters.
And let’s consider the deal they’re looking for. In exchange for agreeing to support the appointment of Judge James Rogan (who Trump picked), they want him to have Judge Lucy Koh nominated and confirmed for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She’s a District Judge for the Northern District of California who was appointed by Barack Obama at the request of Boxer and Feinstein. She is perhaps best known for telling some attorneys for Apple that they “must be smoking crack” during one proceeding. She was approved for her current position with 90 votes in the Senate, but as I said, that was a different time and Republicans generally gave Obama’s nominees a pass.
If the President actually starts wheeling and dealing with these two then there must be something going on under the surface that we’re not being told. There are plenty of fine conservative candidates out there for these positions, and given the treatment that Trump has received from Democrats in the Senate over his nominees thus far, there seems little reason that he’d start handing out presents to the minority party now. The GOP has the votes to move Trump’s nominees out of committee and past a floor vote. All the Democrats can do is slow them down them for a while.