Conservatives blame Republican Senate leader for Democrat obstruction of Trump nominees
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Patience is wearing thin in the White House and among grassroots conservatives as hundreds of federal nominees remain stalled in the U.S. Senate.
177 nominees President Donald Trump has selected to fill various administration vacancies have yet to receive a confirmation vote, including Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo and CIA director nominee Gina Haspel. Fifty-five judicial nominees are pending, as well.
Pro-family advocates have given Trump mixed reviews on his executive appointments’ positions on LGBT issues, but broadly praise his selection of committed pro-lifers for important positions. These selections include Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Dr. Charmaine Yoest, and judicial originalists like Justice Neil Gorsuch to federal courts. Cornell law professor William Jacobson, who runs the popular Legal Insurrection blog, has said that the president is seizing on an “unprecedented opportunity” to reshape the judiciary.
But confirmation of those nominees continues to progress slowly, and contentiously.
“39% of my nominations, including Diplomats to foreign lands, have not been confirmed due to Democrat obstruction and delay,” Trump tweeted on April 2. “At this rate, it would take more than 7 years before I am allowed to have these great people start working. Never happened before. Disgraceful!”
By contrast, Barack Obama saw 67 percent of his nominees confirmed by this point in his presidency, Independent Journal Review reports. The Washington Post adds that it’s taken the Trump nominees an average of 84 days to be confirmed so far. That is longer than the average time it took to confirm nominees of Trump’s last four predecessors.
The Republican National Committee places the blame squarely on Democrats. Most nominees require only 51 votes, thanks to a rule change made by Senate Democrats during Obama’s presidency. But now Democrats frequently invoke a Senate rule that lets the minority party force an additional 30 hours of debate on a nominee after he or she has cleared a cloture vote.
In response, Sen. James Lankford, R-OK, has proposed reducing that time from 30 hours to eight for all but the most senior-level cabinet appointees. Several Republicans have endorsed the idea, and incoming Rules Committee chairman Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO predicts it will receive a vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, ended the 60-vote rule on Supreme Court nominees to confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority vote, and says he wants to end the “blue slip” practice by which individual senators can effectively veto judicial nominees from their home states. Many also credit him for preventing a vote on Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, which left the vacancy open for Trump to fill with Gorsuch.
But conservative activists say he needs to do more.
An October 10 memo signed by more than one hundred conservative leaders, including Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, and Tea Party Patriot’s Jenny Beth Martin, blames part of the problem on the McConnell Senate’s “continued insistence on working no more than 2 ½ days a week – arriving on Monday evening for a handful of votes, and departing, on average, by 2:30 p.m. each Thursday afternoon.”
Even under the 30-hour rule, the leaders add, McConnell could “easily make this painful for them by forcing continuous session overnight and through the weekend.” They estimate this would enable the Senate to confirm up to five nominees per week even with the added hours of debate.
In October, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network threatened to launch a $250,000 ad campaign pressuring McConnell to do more, though that was tabled following a promise from McConnell to meet with them to discuss strategy on the issue. In January, they instead launched ads thanking McConnell for “strong leadership” on the issue.
Not all conservatives are convinced, however. On Friday, Max McGuire of Conservative Daily declared that McConnell “has squandered a whole year and got next to nothing accomplished because he is more interested in preserving the Senate rules than he is about fulfilling his promises to the base.”
“The left knows that if they can run out the clock, they might be able to block Trump's nominees permanently if they retake Congress in November,” he warned.