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.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 19,648,084 — Total deaths: 727,024 — Total recoveries — 11,941,723Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 4,998,105 — Total deaths: 162,425 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats, and some Republicans, criticize the move
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.
Updated 4 hours ago - World

Brazil coronavirus death toll tops 100,000 and case numbers surpass 3 million

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself to Facebook congratulating his soccer team, Palmeiras, for winning the state title Saturday, moments after the health ministry confirmed the national COVID-19 death toll had surpassed 100,000.

Why it matters: Brazil is only the second country to confirm more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus. On Sunday morning, it became the second country to surpass 3 million cases, per Johns Hopkins. Only the U.S. has reported more. Bolsonaro has yet to address the milestones. He has previously tested positive for COVID-19 three times, but he's downplayed the impact of the virus, which has crippled Brazil's economy.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest coronavirus case numbers and more context.