Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is having trouble getting some of President Trump’s judicial appointments confirmed to their posts because Democratic lawmakers are obstructing their votes.
Per Senate procedural rules, Democrats lawmakers have up to thirty hours to debate on each judicial nomination before a final vote is held.
The Daily Caller reports McConnell may look to implement the nuclear option to stop this “systematic obstruction.”
According to the report, the decision comes after Democrats again voted to block a procedural cloture vote on Tuesday. The vote needed 60 votes to end debate and proceed with voting on the nominee. Implementing the nuclear option would make two immediate changes: it would decrease the debate time from 30 hours to two hours and would only require 51 votes to confirm the nominee.
From the Daily Caller:
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.”
“It is not fair to the American people,” McConnell added. “The American people deserve the government they elected. From an institutional perspective, as well as acknowledge, this is completely unsustainable.”
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said Democrats will reject each of Trump’s nominations, regardless of who it is, so they do not need the allotted debate time.
“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 according to the Daily Caller. “However, some members continue to do just that by slow-walking the president’s nominees for partisan purposes.”
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.”
Politico reports President Trump has repeatedly pressured McConnell into getting the judicial appointments confirmed and encouraged him to go “nuclear” to get the job done—should he need to:
Trump has made clear he wants to kill the supermajority requirement, a demand that may gain new momentum if he wins reelection and Republicans take back full control of Congress. Republicans held off Trump from changing the rules for two years of unified power, but he called for McConnell to go nuclear even after the election cost the GOP the House.
“I won’t be one calling for its elimination,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “That’s what President Trump wanted to do. And we kept telling him, ‘You don’t want that to happen.’ We don’t want that to happen.”
After the Senate GOP killed the 60-vote requirement on Supreme Court nominees in 2017, dozens of rank-and-file senators wrote to McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowing to protect the filibuster. Many senators view the filibuster as a trusty old friend that’s fended off the other parties’ most extreme ideas over the years, and they are vowing to protect it.