WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats failed to garner enough bipartisan votes to end an election-year block on Circuit Court judicial nominations — including one from Maine — despite the support of the state’s two Republican senators.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday’s vote would likely be the final attempt this year to approve nominees for federal Circuit Court seats. As a result, it appears that the Senate will not vote on the nomination of Cape Elizabeth attorney William Kayatta for the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Senate’s Republican members are invoking a decades-old “rule” often used by both parties in which the minority blocks nominees for Circuit Court judgeships within six months of a presidential election.

The idea behind the so-called Thurmond Rule is that, by waiting until after the outcome of the presidential election, they may be in a position to fill the judicial post with someone of their party’s own choosing.

Reid fell several votes short of the 60-vote threshold needed to end debate on the nomination of Robert Bacharach to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Oklahoma. If Bacharach had been approved, it could have opened the door for the Senate to consider Kayatta and one other Circuit Court nominee, both of whom have been endorsed by a Senate committee.

Before the vote, speakers from both parties accused the other of playing election-year politics.

Republicans pointed out that Democrats frequently defended and repeatedly used the rule when they were in the minority to block qualified judges.

“The Democrats don’t want us to invoke the rule that they helped establish,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Democrats, on the other hand, suggested Monday’s filibuster was the 86th time this session that Republicans have used the filibuster process to obstruct work in the body.

“It is all about politics and all about the presidential campaign,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both Republicans, sided with the Democrats on the Bacharach vote. Both senators have strongly endorsed Kayatta for the federal bench in Maine and have called on the Senate to move forward with the nominations.

Snowe indicated afterward that she planned to continue pressing Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to hold an up-or-down vote on Kayatta.

Kevin Miller — 317-6256

[email protected]

On Twitter: @KevinMillerDC

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