AUSTIN, Texas — A U.S. Senate committee has discussed five Obama administration nominees for vacant federal judgeships in Texas — a first step toward filling powerful but long-empty posts.

Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz questioned nominees during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday in Washington.

They included three nominees for judgeships in the Northern District of Texas, one in Texas’ Western District and one in Texas’ Eastern District.

As early as next week, the committee could vote to recommend the nominees for full Senate approval.

Advocates have accused Senate Republicans of deliberately delaying Obama administration judicial nominees.

The liberal group Progress Texas says that, if the five nominees are confirmed, they will fill judgeships that have been vacant for a combined eight-plus years. All told, Texas currently has 12 federal judicial vacancies.