Skip to comments.GOP triggers 'nuclear option' to speed up Trump picks
Posted on 04/03/2019 1:15:59 PM PDT by jazusamo
Senate Republicans deployed the nuclear option on Wednesday to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to confirm hundreds of President Trumps nominees.
Senators voted 51-48 to change the rules for the amount of time it takes to confirm most executive nominations with only a simple majority of the chamber. GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Susan Collins (Maine) joined with Democrats in opposing the rules change.
Republicans are expected to trigger the nuclear option for a second time later Wednesday to force through the same change for district court nominations.
The combined actions will result in most nominations that require Senate confirmation needing only two hours of debate after theyve defeated a filibuster that shows they have the votes to ultimately be confirmed. Before Wednesdays rules change they faced up to an additional 30 hours of debate.
Supreme Court picks, appeals court judges and Cabinet nominees will not be affected by the rules change and will still face the lengthier Senate floor debate.
But the move will let Republicans hit the gas on confirming nominations, a top priority in an era of divided government that has left lawmakers without big-ticket legislative agenda items.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued shortly before triggering the hardball procedural tactic that the Senate needed to go back to a more normal and reasonable process for confirming nominations.
Our colleagues across the aisle have chosen to endlessly relitigate the 2016 election rather than actually participate in governing, McConnell added. This problem goes deeper than today. Were talking about the future of this very institution and the future functioning of our constitutional government.
Republicans have set a record for the number of appeals judges confirmed during an administrations first two years, but theyve accused Democrats of using the chambers legislative rulebook to slow down lower-level executive and judicial nominations.
Of 715 key positions tracked by The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, 435 have been confirmed by the Senate. An additional 131 are awaiting confirmation, 12 need to be formally nominated and 140 positions still need nominations.
And, according to the same tracker, some departments still have substantial vacancies in their Senate-confirmed positions.
The Interior Department, for example, has 41 percent of its Senate-confirmed employees in place, the Justice Department has 48 percent and the Department of Labor has 50 percent.
Its the second time Republicans have gone nuclear to make it easier to confirm Trumps nominees in as many years. In 2017, Republicans nixed the 60-vote filibuster on Supreme Court nominees, mirroring the action Democrats took in 2013 on lower-court and executive nominees.
Republicans made a last-ditch effort on Tuesday to pass the rules change as a standing order, which would have required 60 votes. But Democrats and Lee voted against the resolution, preventing it from getting the necessary support to pass.
The resolution was widely expected to fail the earlier test vote but was aimed at assuaging concerns from within the GOP caucus about moving forward with the nuclear option without at least trying to pass it with Democrats. The caucus held a meeting on Tuesday evening to walk through the plan for Wednesday.
I think we had to convince 51, at least 51, of our members that were doing everything possible to try to do this through regular order, said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) about the point of Tuesdays vote.
Republicans say they reached out to try to negotiate an agreement with Democrats to try to reach a deal to avoid Wednesdays floor drama but found little interest. Sources familiar with the negotiations told The Hill last week that Democrats have tried to negotiate a deal with McConnell, with suggested changes such as postponing the rules change until 2021, applying it only to executive nominees or restoring the blue slip for circuit court picks but were unable to reach an agreement.
Democrats are bristling over Republicans decision to invoke the nuclear option, arguing that they cant simultaneously complain about the pace of nominations while setting a record for some court nominees.
A similar resolution passed the Senate in 2013 that cut debate time for most executive nominations to eight hours and district judges to two hours. But that resolution, which passed with bipartisan support, only controlled the 113th Congress.
Democrats argue that the dynamic around nominations has changed dramatically since then. Democrats nixed the 60-vote filibuster in 2013 for most nominations and Republicans followed suite in 2017 on Supreme Court nominations.
Republicans have also moved circuit nominations over the objections of home-state senators.
The way my colleagues on the other side talk about the issue, youd think Democrats delayed every nominee for as long as possible. That just doesnt remotely resemble the truth, said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
It’s the only way to be sure.
Did they borrow one of Pelosi’s testicles?
About 24 months too late
Good they finally did it.
Better late, than never.
Wait, what, Romney supported this and Lee didn't?
It will never pass.
What is wrong with Lee? Why vote against this? It makes no sense.
I know Mitch is a RINO ass*ole but he knows how to rally the troops to get things done. This must be the “exchange” with PDJT regarding “keep obamacare alive” from yesterday..
I’m sure there was a deal in place to get Mutt on board. What that deal is, it’s gonna hurt Trump because Smitch and Linda Graham are totally onboard on this issue..
In hindsight, the judges will help the country in the long term even when we have a Dummycrat prez in the future.
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“Wait, what, Romney supported this and Lee didn’t?”
Maybe they just automatically count Romney with the Dhims.
It’s not a rule change, it’s a change of precedent.
The Hill doesn’t care- as long as an article gets some knocks in on Republicans they’ve done their job.
Im guessing Trump cut a deal. He backed off shuting down the border for this probably.
It already passed.
“It will never pass.”
it just did: that’s what the article is about ... Senate rule changes require only a majority vote ...
What is wrong with Lee? Why vote against this? It makes no sense.
Lee would have been thinking of payback.
In the future when the senate shifts control to democrats—the republicans will be under the same regime that they created. they will not be able to slow walk democrat nominations for the lower courts or the executive
Could be. Smitch is a deep state POS RINO and he wont do anything for the country unless he has something to gain..
I have no words for pathetic Susan Collins.
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