Senate Democrats have delivered on their end of a bargain with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, confirming Rebecca Ebinger to a lifetime appointment as a district judge in Iowa.
Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, brokered the deal in December: His committee would advance three of President Obama’s liberal nominees for federal judgeships in exchange for Democrats’ support of two other judges from Iowa, Grassley’s home state.
In the weeks before Ebinger’s confirmation Monday, the Senate gave the green light to three judicial nominees, including Wilhelmina Wright, a judge who in her youth accused the Reagan administration of bigotry and racism.
Approved by a vote of 83 to 0, Ebinger will serve as U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Iowa. Seventeen senators failed to show up to vote, including 13 Republicans.
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Grassley used the opportunity to praise Ebinger, calling her “exceptionally talented and qualified.” As part of his December deal, Grassley also secured a Senate confirmation vote on Leonard Strand as a U.S. District Court judge in Iowa.
“I said this in committee, but for the benefit of all my colleagues, the Iowa nominees are two of the best judicial candidates the president has nominated during his presidency,” Grassley said. “Judges Strand and Ebinger have the highest credentials and character and will serve the state of Iowa with honor and distinction.”
Ebinger spent time working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Iowa and was later appointed, then elected to be a district judge in Iowa state court. Her confirmation leaves Strand as the lone nominee awaiting a vote from Grassley’s deal.
Pressure has been mounting on Senate Republicans to halt confirmation of all judicial nominees. Led by Heritage Action, some want to freeze the process in protest of what they consider ongoing executive overreach. Others contend that the process already is too political.
This story was updated to include additional information about Ebinger and comments from Grassley.