Democrats drop blockade as Senate approves dozens of Trump nominations

As the Senate left Capitol Hill to start a one month summer break, Democrats gave up their blockade on 66 Executive Branch nominations from President Donald Trump, allowing the approval of the biggest batch of nominees so far in the President's first six months in office, as Democrats gave up their slow-walking of Trump nominations in the aftermath of the Senate's defeat of a GOP plan to dramatically change the Obama health law.

"The Senate has confirmed more Executive Branch nominees this week than all of the Executive Branch nominees confirmed this year combined," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"This was an important step toward filling critical roles throughout the administration, including the deputies at multiple cabinet offices," McConnell added.

Democrats had held up many Trump nominees in protest of the process used by the GOP to push ahead on legislation to overhaul the Obama health law, angered by a lack of hearings and a lack of input by Democrats.

"The two are tied together," said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer. "You can't avoid regular order when you want to and then say Democrats should use regular order whenever you want us to."

The nominations that were approved were part of dozens that have been awaiting Senate action in recent months; most of those confirmed were not household names, and were not waiting to take jobs that would be known by people outside of Washington, D.C.

One of the few big names was Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets, who will be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Other ambassadors confirmed included those to Canada, Costa Rica and Portugal.

One that did not make the cut was Callista Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was picked by Mr. Trump for the post of Ambassador to the Vatican.

It is not clear when Mrs. Gingrich - and about 40 other nominees who are still on the calendar - will get a vote, but it won't happen until after Labor Day.

Republicans made clear that they thought Democrats had gone too far by holding up so many nominees of the President.

"This was a big day," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the number two Republican in Senate, who said there was no reason for the "obstruction and foot dragging" of Democrats.

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