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Julien Xavier Neals. Photo: Tom Williams/pool/ AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 66-33 on Tuesday to confirm Julien Xavier Neals to be U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey.

Why it matters: Neals is President Biden's first judicial nominee to be confirmed, as Democrats begin a push to "restore the balance" of the courts after the GOP-led Senate confirmed a record number of conservative judges under former President Trump.

  • Later on Tuesday, the Senate voted 72-28 to confirm Regina Rodriguez to serve as a U.S. district court judge in Colorado.
  • Trump's aggressive judicial appointments were his most lasting, substantive legacy, as he appointed more than 200 judges to the federal bench — including three Supreme Court justices — in just one term.
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged that Senate Democrats would bring "balance, experience and diversity back to the judiciary" with Biden's nominees.

What they're saying: "I want to convey my sincere gratitude to the Senate for confirming Julien X. Neals as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and Regina M. Rodriguez as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, both with bipartisan support," Biden said in a statement.

  • "I was honored to include both of them in the very first nominations I made to the Federal Bench, and they embody the professional excellence and devotion to the rule of law and our Constitution that the American people expect of federal judges."
  • "They are both highly qualified, and they represent the diversity that is one of the ultimate strengths of our nation—in all branches of government, including the judiciary."

Background: Neals was previously nominated to serve on the district court by former President Obama in 2015, but his nomination expired after then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to bring it for a vote.

What to watch: There are currently 71 district court vacancies and nine appeals court vacancies, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Liberal activists have pushed for 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer to retire while Democrats still have control of the Senate.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Rodriguez's confirmation and Biden's statement.

Go deeper

Jun 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Pro-McConnell PAC prepared to intervene in 2022 primaries

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

A super PAC closely aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is prepared to intervene in GOP primaries — and potentially challenge former President Trump — as it looks for the most viable candidates to reclaim the Senate.

Driving the news: Trump’s weekend endorsement of Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) in his state's 2022 Senate race put the GOP establishment on notice that party leaders won’t necessarily get to handpick their preferred candidates for the crucial midterms.

Pacific Northwest soon to be ground zero for record-shattering heat

Computer model projection showing the unusually strong heat dome over the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. (PivotalWeather).

A heat wave is bringing unprecedented high temperatures to the Pacific Northwest — a region of the country typically cooled by the ocean, rather than central air conditioning. The heat will begin Friday and last into early next week.

Why it matters: The heat wave will shatter monthly and all-time temperature records in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the records could break the old milestones by several degrees.

At least one person killed, 99 missing after deadly Miami-area condo collapse

A massive search-and-rescue operation is underway after a portion of a 12-story residential building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed at approximately 1:30 a.m. Thursday, according to AP.

The latest: Officials have accounted for 102 people who lived in the high-rise Champlain Towers South, but 99 people remained unaccounted for by midafternoon, said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

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