by Henry Rodgers
The Senate failed to pass a procedural cloture vote Tuesday that would cut Democrats’ time obstructing President Donald Trump’s nominees on the floor, making it likely Republicans will use the nuclear option to change the Senate rules.
The vote was set up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday, with expectations that it would fail so that the nuclear option can be used. The motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed was shut down 51-48. However, since the cloture needs 60 “no” votes to fail, McConnell entered a motion to reconsider the failed cloture vote, which will likely be voted on later in the week.
The nuclear option would cut Democrats’ debate time from thirty hours to two hours, making the confirmation process for Trump’s nominees faster. Republicans would only need 51 votes to confirm a Trump nominee after the rules change.
McConnell called the Democrat’s actions “systematic obstruction” on the Senate floor Tuesday, saying it is “not targeted, thoughtful opposition to a few marquee nominations or rare circumstances. But a grinding, across-the-board effort to delay and obstruct the people this president puts up. Even if they have unquestionable qualifications. Even if the job is relatively low-profile.”
Other Republicans like Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Democrats will oppose any nominee Trump puts forward, regardless of who it is.
“Over the past two years, some in this body have decided that they will oppose any nominee suggested by President Trump. There isn’t a senator in this room who serves their state’s interest when qualified, noncontroversial nominees are prevented from being confirmed,” Grassley said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “However, some members continue to do just that by slow-walking the president’s nominees for partisan purposes.”
“It is not fair to the American people. The American people deserve the government they elected,” McConnell said on the floor Thursday. “From an institutional perspective, as well all acknowledge, this is completely unsustainable.”
Senate Democrats, such as Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, have pushed back against the rules change, saying it is “an erosion of the Senate’s responsibility, in fact, our sworn constitutional duty to advise and consent,” on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Trump has previously called out Democrats for “slow walking” his executive nominees, saying “Democrats in the Senate are still slow-walking hundreds of highly qualified people wanting to come into government,” in a February tweet. “Never been such an abuse in our country’s history.”
Democrats in the Senate are still slow walking hundreds of highly qualified people wanting to come into government. Never been such an abuse in our country’s history. Mitch should not let Senate go home until all are approved. We need our Ambassadors and all others NOW!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2019
The president broke a record for the number of appeals court judges confirmed during the first half of a presidency.
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Henry Rodgers is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Henry on Twitter.
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