tillis photo with otr 071316

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)

U.S. Senate Democrats tried to push 16 judicial nominees to confirmation this afternoon but were denied by North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis.

Video here.

Tillis objected that the Senate shouldn't be forced to do "things that have nothing to do with doing our jobs" while action is needed on important matters like Zika, veterans, drug addiction and defense funding.

Which prompted Democrat Elizabeth Warren to question what part of the Constitution says that confirming judges isn't the Senate's job.

Warren was joined by fellow Democrats Chuck Schumer and Mazie Hirono in trying to break a logjam before the Senate goes into its long summer recess. It could adjourn as soon as tomorrow.

Schumer pointed out that the number of judicial vacancies is much greater than those a Democratic Senate left in the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency.

Tillis turned the statistic around, claiming that 326 judges were confirmed during Bush's two terms, while 329 have been confirmed since Barack Obama took office.

Maybe there were simply fewer vacancies when Bush was in the White House.

"When it comes to judicial nominees, this president has been treated more fairly than President George W. Bush," Tillis said.

Apparently that means no more will get through this year. Period.

Even though, as Hirono said, the pending nominees are noncontroversial, having been approved by a voice vote in the Judiciary Committee (of which Tillis is a member). Furthermore, many were nominated before 2016.

No matter. Tillis' objection was enough to deny the "unanimous consent" necessary to confirm the nominees quickly.

Obviously, this was a staged drama known as "Politics as Usual." Tillis was chosen to play his role.

So now the Senate can move on to its pressing business — although one must wonder why so much critical legislation has been held for last-minute attention.

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Contact editorial writer Doug Clark at (336) 373-7039 and dgclark@News-Record.com.