PFAW Response to McConnell Comments on Changing Blue Slip Process

Mitch McConnell

At the press conference, several of the letter's signatories offered suggestions for different Republican Senators to take McConnell's place as majority leader, but there was not a consensus pick.

Senators traded rhetorical shots on Wednesday after tensions over the issue - which have been simmering for months - appeared to spill over.

"The majority" - that is, Republicans - will treat a blue slip "as simply notification of how you're going to vote, not as an opportunity to blackball". "I decide the priority", McConnell said in an interview.

In an interview with the Weekly Standard, McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, stressed that the use of so-called "blue slips" - named after the piece of paper senators from a potential federal judge's state must sign to indicate their approval - is a custom, not a rule, and that the use of them will no longer be enforced. "If you mean he's not announcing a committee position, then yes, he's not announcing a committee position".

The Senate Judiciary Committee now requires both home-state senators of a judicial nominee to turn in a blue slip ― literally, a blue piece of paper ― to signal support for moving forward with the nominee.

Last month, McConnell told the New York Times that the blue slip process shouldn't be used to block appeals judges, but he believed it should still be used for lower-court judges.

"The Senate has fewer and fewer mechanisms that create bipartisanship and bring people to an agreement".

It's true, the blue-slip tradition isn't all that hallowed.

As we have noted on this page many times, the only significant legislative accomplishment the GOP can point to in 2017 is the confirmation of Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It's not the first time senators have fought over the blue slip. There are now roughly 140 vacancies on the federal bench, providing Trump with the opportunity to cement a lasting legacy on the courts.

They follow boasts Monday by Steve Bannon, an informal adviser to President Donald Trump and an executive at Breitbart News, that "we're going to cut off the oxygen to Mitch McConnell" by making it hard for him to raise money and support establishment candidates and incumbents - officeholders who these groups say not only have failed to "drain the swamp" but more accurately represent "the swamp" itself.

President Trump has hundreds of nominees for top administration positions awaiting confirmation, some of which have implications for national security. "The Republicans control the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate".

The Senate hasn't confirmed many of Trump's picks, though ― a total of six district and appeals court judges so far ― hence the pressure on McConnell to do more.

One such group, the Judicial Crisis Network, planned to launch a $250,000 ad campaign in Washington, DC, on Tuesday that called on McConnell to either change Senate rules to help push through Trump's judges, or keep the Senate in session until Democrats relent in their efforts to slow the process, the outlet reported. That, in turn, makes it easier for Trump to advance nominees in states that do not have any Democratic Senate representation. That used to require 60 votes, but when Democrats controlled the chamber in 2013, they lowered the threshold after Republicans routinely used the filibuster to block Obama's nominees.

Grassley "will determine how to apply the blue slip courtesy for federal judicial nominees, as has always been the practice", said Grassley spokesman Taylor Foy.

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