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Mitch McConnell pushes forward with rule change to speed lower-level confirmations

Mitch McConnell pushes forward with rule change to speed lower-level confirmations

No change for SCOTUS, Appeals Court, Cabinet and senior nominees, “[b]ut for most other nominations – for the hundreds of lower-level nominations that every new president makes – post-cloture debate time would be reduced from 30 hours to 2 hours.”

Mitch McConnell has been a bad boy (in the eyes of Democrats) according to my email inbox:

PFAW Statement on McConnell’s Threatened Rules Change: A Naked Power Grab Based on Lies and Distortions

WASHINGTON — In response to Mitch McConnell’s threat to break the Senate’s rules yet again in order to expedite GOP efforts to confirm as many of Donald Trump’s nominees as possible, People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement:

“There’s literally no one in the world with less credibility to accuse Democrats of obstructing the confirmation process than Mitch McConnell. His latest effort to break the Senate’s rules is a naked power grab based on lies and distortions. By attempting to speed up Republicans’ confirmation machine, Senator McConnell is trying to ensure that nominees to lifetime seats on the federal bench receive as little scrutiny as possible. That’s not because of Democratic obstruction—the Senate has confirmed almost the same number of district court nominees for Donald Trump as it did for President Obama, and far more circuit court nominees. It’s because time and again these nominees have been shown to be embarrassingly unfit. But Senator McConnell’s answer isn’t to find better nominees; it’s just to make sure there’s less transparency for the entire process.

“Judicial nominees, if confirmed, serve for life. And several of the nominees awaiting votes have frighteningly extreme records when it comes to opposing reproductive freedom, attacking the rights of LGBTQ people, undermining voting rights, and enabling torture. Rushing these nominees through the process would be profoundly irresponsible.” …

So what’s all the hysteria about?

McConnell is finally doing what has been threatened for over a year, to reduce floor “debate” time to get around Democrat obstruction where they invoke 30 hours of debate even for non-controversial non-debatable nominees. That drags out the process interminably.

McConnell explained the problem in a Politico Op-Ed, Time to Stop the Democrats’ Obstruction:

It took six months of partisan delays — and several railroad accidents — before Democrats let the Senate confirm a federal railroad administrator, even though none of them actually voted against the nominee in the end.

It’s been 354 days and counting in Senate purgatory for the president’s nominee to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Two-hundred eighty-seven days and counting for the under secretary of state for management. Noncontroversial lower court nominees have languished for weeks and weeks — for no discernible reason — before they, too, were confirmed unanimously. These are just a few examples of the historic obstruction Senate Democrats have visited upon President Trump’s nominees for two years and counting.

Since January 2017, for the first time in memory, a minority has exploited procedure to systematically obstruct a president from staffing up his administration. This new, across-the-board obstruction is unfair to the president and, more importantly, to the American people. Left unchecked, it is guaranteed to create an unsustainable precedent that would see every future presidency of either party obstructed in the same mindless way.

The Senate needs to restore normalcy. And this week, we will vote to do just that….

… in President Trump’s first two years? We had to hold a stunning 128 cloture votes to advance nominations. Our Democratic colleagues made the Senate jump over five times as many hurdles as in the equivalent periods in the Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations combined….

The all-encompassing, systematic nature of this obstruction is not part of the Senate’s important tradition of minority rights. It is a new departure from that tradition.

Here is McConnell’s statement, made on the floor of the Senate, in part:

“So today, I am filing cloture on a resolution that takes that bipartisan effort as its blueprint. This resolution from Senator Blunt and Senator Lankford would implement very similar steps and make them a permanent part of the Senate going forward. The Supreme Court, circuit courts, cabinet-level executive positions, and certain independent boards and commissions would not change.

“But for most other nominations – for the hundreds of lower-level nominations that every new president makes – post-cloture debate time would be reduced from 30 hours to 2 hours. This would keep the floor moving. It would facilitate more efficient consent agreements. And most importantly, it would allow the administration — finally, two years into its tenure — to staff numerous important positions that remain unfilled, with nominees who have been languishing.

“This resolution has come up through regular order, through the Rules Committee. And next week, we will vote on it. It deserves the same kind of bipartisan vote that Sen. Schumer and Sen. Reid’s proposal received back during the Obama Administration. I understand that many of my Democratic colleagues have indicated they would be all for this reform as long as it doesn’t go into effect until 2021, when they obviously hope someone else might be in the White House. But they’re reluctant to support it now.

“Give me a break. That is unfair on its face. My Democratic colleagues were more than happy to support a similar proposal in 2013 under President Obama. They whisper in our ears privately that they’d support it now if it took effect in 2021. But they can’t support it now, especially under these unprecedented circumstances, simply because we have a Republican president. So look, fair is fair. Members of this body should only support reforms that they would be ready to support in the minority as they are in the majority. Put another way, if my side is in the minority two years from now, I don’t think this will be unfair – it will not disadvantage us in the wake of a new Democratic president. This is a change the institution needs, a change the institution made already basically with a two-year experiment when President Obama was in office. This is a reform that every member should embrace — when their party controls the White House and when it does not control the White House.

This should help speed along the process, particularly for judicial nominees. There remain many empty seats to fill, and Republicans want as many as possible filled prior to the 2020 election, just in case.

Here are the numbers on vacancies from Carrie Severino as of March 25, 2019:

Current and known future vacancies:  167

Courts of Appeals:  10

District/Specialty Courts*: 157

Pending nominees for current and known future vacancies:  66

Courts of Appeals: 6

District/Specialty Courts*:  60


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TheOldZombie | April 1, 2019 at 8:43 pm

Excellent. It’s about time. The Democrats went too far and now are being called on their horse-poop.


stevewhitemd | April 1, 2019 at 9:20 pm

Pretty much the same thing happened in the House at the turn of the 20th Century. The House had a filibuster-like rule (not exactly the same but close enough) and lots of arcane rules. The Democrats obstructed the majority Republicans enough that the Pubs finally changed all the rules. The Democrats, predictably, were enraged.

A funny part of the story: when the Democrats took the House, they did away with all the Pub-inspired rule changes. The Pub minority leader then used the old rules to such effect that the Democrats had to bring back the reforms.

And several of the nominees awaiting votes have frighteningly extreme records when it comes to opposing reproductive freedom, attacking the rights of LGBTQ people, undermining voting rights, and enabling torture. Rushing these nominees through the process would be profoundly irresponsible.”

Hmmm. Even if these claims are true, and even if they’re disqualifying, the way to stop the confirmation is with a vote. It has nothing at all to do with “debate time”. So shortening “debate time” from 30 to 2 hours is inconsequential, unless someone can argue that it takes more than two hours to show that a nominee should be rejected.

“”And several of the nominees awaiting votes have frighteningly extreme records when it comes to opposing reproductive freedom, attacking the rights of LGBTQ people, undermining voting rights, and enabling torture.””

Translation: They oppose infanticide, denying freedom of religion, refuse to countenance voter fraud, and disapprove of dismembering babies in the womb.

    Dave in reply to txvet2. | April 2, 2019 at 6:56 am

    Nominees need to be outright socialists in order to be considered “mainstream” by the Democrats. Reproductive rights indeed.

    DINORightMarie in reply to txvet2. | April 2, 2019 at 7:23 am

    I think their “enabling torture” is either a slam on enforcing immigration laws (i.e. not supporting open borders) or supporting the military.

    Despicable. Despcable Democrats.

So we should give mcconnell a gold star for doing what we elected him to do?

The sooner we get this guy out of the leadership position of the senate and replace him with a patriot, the sooner our nation is on its way to healing the destruction of the obama and clinton years.

    VaGentleman in reply to | April 2, 2019 at 5:16 am

    McConnell’s not perfect, but he is the reason we got 2 on the supreme court and are getting a lot in the lower courts. He has also stood up for gun owners and blocked the antis. You can disagree with him, but to say that he is not a patriot is bull sh!t.

      McConnell is a parasite – as are ALL of the clowns of the GOPe, and all of the democrats who have been aging poorly while hogging the leadership positions of our nation.

      For them, it’s a closed private club – the nation comes second. For us, we’re trying to survive and flourish.

      McConnell is a patriot like bill krystol or george will are patriots: they suddenly cease supporting the Constitution when one of thier club members is not elected.

      Remember how quickl McConnell sold us out whem a traitor named ‘barack hussein obama’ (or whoever he really is) was elected. McConnell couldn’t kiss his ass fast enough, and blow off the base.

      McConnell would stab Trump (and us) in the back in a heartbeat if it served his private interests, and those of his buddies in the corrupt closed-club corrupting our government.

      His wife is another parasite, who made millions as a result of her spouse – same as the pelosis, kerrys, Fauxcahontas’, feinsteins and bidens we so despise.

      The guy is untelegenic, and intensely disliked by young voters. McConnell has zero to offer us. Nothing. Any experienced Senate aide could provide the legislative knowledge McConnell has. And because he has stabbed us in the back so many times before, who the hell needs him now?

      You know why Alexandra Cortez is resonating, despite her ridiculous ignorance? – Because she calls out the elephants in the room, and THAT resonates with people.

      Yes, Cortez is pathetically ignorant and somewhat deranged – but she’s succeeding in ways our side should be succeeding with young voters, because she appears passionate and earnest.

      And what the hell has Kevin McCarthy done for us lately? Does anybody even know what he looks like? Can anyone still defend McCain’s rotten presence in the Senate, even if he lived?

      The left is using the bully pulpits of elected office to great effect. The GOP does not use them to ANY effect. Trump does. If Trump died, you’d see the rats of the GOP immediately swimming right back into the bosom of the democrat media.

      A patriot looks past his or her own interets. Like Trump. Like Patrick Henry. Like George Washington.

      Like Mitch McConnell (PUH-leeezzzze) —

      How McConnell and Chao used political power to make their family rich:

        VaGentleman in reply to | April 3, 2019 at 2:29 am

        Nothing you say shows that he is unpatriotic. He is not the perfect conservative, but that makes him unpatriotic only if you are arguing that one must be a conservative to be a patriot.

        In protecting free speech and freedom of religion, the constitution enshrines diverse opinions, which lead to diverse outcomes. Having wrong ideas or policies does not make one unpatriotic. We cannot have the discussion the founders envisioned if the bar that defines un-patriotism is as low as you have set it.

    Gold Star? No.

    But perhaps you could stop attacking him when he’s doing such a great job.

    Can you give a single example of something that would be better now if someone else had been majority leader of the Senate for the last four years?

    You can start by explaining how your guy would have kept Merrick Garland off the Supreme Court and wrangled enough votes to overturn the filibuster against Gorsuch.

    I’ll be particularly interested in hearing how your guy would have persuaded John McCain to vote for the Obamacare repeal.

    Never forget that O’Connell help Obama pass his “Help Iran Build Nuclear tipped ICBMs” agreement when he could have easily stopped it.

Exactly what I’ve been saying he should do…for three years now.

What took so long?

CaliforniaJimbo | April 2, 2019 at 8:09 am

Now that Mueller time has turned into last call, “cocaine Mitch” cannot abide the Schumer obstruction.

No matter the issue or the nature of the contest, Democrats never even attempt to win by proving they have the best idea. They immediately go about trying to cheat their way to victory. Always want to obstruct and deceive and to fix the game. It’s so frustrating. It’s like dealing with the Romulans!

    The only ‘idea’ they have is to seize unlimited power for themselves and their cronies. Why should they argue facts, when the propaganda they spew at the behest of their media handlers works so well?

    No opposition is a good thing for fascists.

Perfect! Well, almost. Might I make one tiny suggestion?


As I understand, floor debate is only required when a nomination is objected to by a senator. My suggestion is that a nomination that is objected to *on a bipartisan* basis be scheduled during normal business hours, and objections made by only one party be scheduled in the (ahem) non-normal business hours in a debate-only-no-votes session.

“Note that the nomination of Hugo Normal for Second Undersecretary of HUD’s Community Minority Outreach Program has been objected to, and will be scheduled as per procedure for two hours of floor debate on (checks calendar) this evening from 1AM to 3AM, with vote to be held at the same time as the rest of the nominees at 11AM tomorrow morning. Please present the next nominee.”

Mark Michael | April 2, 2019 at 1:14 pm

I’m disappointed it did not include U.S. District Court judges. Leaving the U.S. Court of Appeals out isn’t that important, since there are so few of those – 9 open slots right now. But there are 150+ U.S. District Court judge slots that are open. This helps very little to get as many judges confirmed as possible.

I’m in two minds about this. The vast majority of nominations don’t even need two hours, let alone thirty; if not for the opportunity to gum up the works the Dems would let them through without any debate at all. But the 30 hours rule is necessary when there’s a nomination that’s actually controversial. So maybe they should give the minority a fixed number of 30-hour nomination debates each session, which they can use for whichever nominations they like, but if they waste them on the earliest nominations then when someone they have real objections to comes along they’ll be out.

Bottom line, isn’t it —

McConnell to Trump: We’re not repealing and replacing ObamaCare:

Who needs this fake?