Apr 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McConnell: Senate will confirm more judges as soon as it returns to session

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

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Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.

House Democrats pull FISA reauthorization bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats pulled legislation Thursday that would have renewed expired domestic surveillance laws and strengthened transparency and privacy protections amid broad opposition from President Trump, House GOP leadership and progressive Democrats.

Why it matters: The failure to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) comes as Trump continues to attack the intelligence community, which he claims abused the law to surveil his 2016 campaign and Trump administration officials.

U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimated 4.8% contraction — according to revised figures released by the government on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's the worst quarterly decline since 2008 and shows a huge hit as the economy was just beginning to shut down because of the coronavirus. Economists are bracing for the second quarter's figures to be the worst ever — with some projecting an annualized decline of around 40%.

3 hours ago - Economy & Business