The least productive Congress in modern history concluded Tuesday night with a rare flurry of productivity.
The Senate confirmed 59 Obama nominations, including a dozen judges who will serve lifetime appointments on the federal bench. Controversial anti-choice nominee Michael Boggs was not among them.
Boggs came under fire for a series of anti-choice votes, including a bill that would have published the names of abortion doctors online, and for his support of a same-sex marriage ban and a Confederate symbol on the Georgia state flag.
“Boggs’ defeat is a victory for women, LGBT equality, and racial justice,” NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said in a statement. “At a time where our rights are under fire in the courts, Americans will not accept the elevation of a nominee with a clear history of anti-choice bias as the price of a ‘deal’ struck to fill federal judicial vacancies.”
That deal was one struck between the Obama administration and Georgia’s two senators to include Boggs in a package of seven nominees in exchange for the senators not using their veto power against any of the nominations.
The nominees that went through were a victory for diversity in the Obama presidency.
Obama’s nominations have significantly increased the diversity of the courts, and he has already confirmed more women than any other president in the modern era.
Obama has gotten more judges confirmed this year and overall in his presidency than his predecessors, with 89 district and circuit court judges confirmed this year alone, and a total of 305 confirmations in his six years as president.
Obama can thank the Senate’s “nuclear option” filibuster reform for nominations for the high number of confirmations this year.
Oddly enough, he can also thank Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), whose procedure-bucking insistence on anti-immigration votes late Friday night kept the Senate in session over the weekend and provided more time to set up confirmation votes.
This allowed the confirmation of high-profile nominees like Vivek Murthy as the new surgeon general.
Murthy was one of a staggering 69 nominees who were able to be confirmed since Friday night.
“Because of the antics of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, we were able to end the 113th Congress on a high note,” a senior Democratic leadership aide told Rewire. “Senator Reid and the Democratic caucus showed tremendous unity and perseverance to push through many important nominations before the end of the year.”