WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats set out Thursday to break a Republican blockade and force a vote on the Oklahoma magistrate nominated for a seat on a federal appeals court.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., made a procedural move Thursday afternoon that could force a vote on Robert E. Bacharach as early as Monday. Bacharach, a federal magistrate judge in Oklahoma City, has been nominated for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is one of the federal appellate courts a step below the U.S. Supreme Court.
Senate Republicans have been blocking votes on circuit court nominees for the last few weeks, invoking a tradition that both parties have used in presidential election years. The party that doesn’t control the White House delays nominees for the powerful courts in hopes that they’ll regain the presidency and the power to make the nominations.
To succeed, Reid’s move will require some Republican votes.
Under the process invoked by the Democratic leader, 60 senators will have to support considering Bacharach’s nomination. Democrats currently have 51 senators, and there are two independents who typically align with the Democrats. If those 53 senators are present and vote to break the Republican logjam, Democrats would need seven Republicans to go along.
If Reid’s procedural motion can garner 60 votes, Bacharach’s nomination could then be approved by a simple majority.
Bacharach received the highest rating from the American Bar Association, and his nomination was strongly supported by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa. Bacharach’s nomination easily cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.
Oklahoma City attorney Dan Webber, a former U.S. attorney who came to Washington in May to urge senators to vote on President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees, applauded Reid on Thursday.
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