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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday the Senate will continue confirming President Trump's judicial nominations "as soon as we get back in session" on May 4.

Why it matters: McConnell has long viewed the transformation of the federal judiciary through the confirmation of young conservative judges as his defining legacy.

The big picture: President Trump has successfully appointed 193 judges to the federal bench thus far, including two Supreme Court justices. But the coronavirus pandemic has forced Congress to resort to brief pro forma sessions in recent weeks, stalling confirmation hearings.

  • McConnell said he wants to "leave no vacancies behind" when it comes to the courts, adding that the coronavirus "will not prevent us from achieving that goal."

What he's saying:

"Well, the current plan is to go back in session on May the 4th. I haven’t seen anything that would discourage me from doing that. And as soon as we get back in session, we’ll start confirming judges again. We need to have hearings, and we need to confirm judges. Hugh, you and I have discussed this before. My motto for the year is leave no vacancy behind. That hasn’t changed. The pandemic will not prevent us from achieving that goal."

Worth noting: McConnell told Hewitt he opposed Democrats' attempt to add funding for state and local governments to the interim coronavirus relief bill passed by the Senate Tuesday because he didn't want to "just send a blank check down to states and local governments to spend anyway they choose to."

  • McConnell said that he would be in favor of allowing states to declare bankruptcy rather than receive large federal bailouts.
  • He also warned that lawmakers "haven’t had much discussion about adding $2.7 trillion dollars to the national debt, and the way that could indeed also threaten the future of the country."

Go deeper: McConnell says he would fill Supreme Court vacancy if it opened this year

Go deeper

Jul 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

GOP Sen. Sasse slams Mnuchin and Pelosi as "big government Democrats"

Mnuchin. Photo: Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) sharply criticized stimulus negotiations between House Democrats and the Trump administration on Tuesday, dismissing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as "two big government Democrats."

Why it matters: Sasse is one of a number of Senate Republicans who have expressed frustration with key provisions in the White House-backed bill released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday — underscoring how far Congress is from striking a deal on a coronavirus relief package.

32 mins ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.