President Joe Biden nominated another four federal judges on Wednesday, including two women of Asian descent who would be the first such U.S. judges on their court or in their state.
The Senate, which Biden’s fellow Democrats narrowly control, must approve the candidates, who were nominated to posts in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., according to a White House statement.
If confirmed, District of Columbia Court of Appeals Judge Loren AliKhan would be the first South Asian woman on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the only Asian American Pacific Islander on the court.
Susan DeClercq, currently Ford Motor Co’s director and special investigations counsel, would be the first East Asian federal judge in the state if confirmed for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The nominations were made as officials including Biden’s chief of staff, Jeff Zients, and White House Counsel Stuart Delery ramp up meetings with senators, including Republicans, during Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein’s long health-related absence from Washington.
Democrats control the U.S. Senate 51-49, but the absence of Feinstein, a member of the Judiciary Committee, has reduced their majority in the chamber to 50, and judges cannot be advanced out of committee and to the full Senate without Republican support.
Republicans had blocked Democrats’ efforts to temporarily replace Feinstein on the committee, which approves federal judges before they go for a vote before the full Senate.
The 89-year-old lawmaker has not voted in the Senate since mid-February amid a bout with shingles and has announced her retirement when her term ends in 2024. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke with her on Monday and is hopeful she will return next week, Politico said on Tuesday, citing a copy of notes Schumer held during a news conference.
So far, the Senate has confirmed 122 of Biden’s nominees to lifetime posts on the federal courts, according to the White House.