According to current rules that govern the Senate, each district court nomination and each executive nominee is subject to 30 hours of floor debate even after they’ve demonstrated an ability to break through the filibuster and get the votes needed for confirmation. These rules have allowed Democrats to take advantage of procedure and slow the confirmation of Trump nominees to a painful crawl for the last two years. Now, frustrated and fed up with the sluglike pace of confirmations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Roy Blunt, and Sen. James Lankford want a rule change that would reduce the amount of debate time down to two hours per nominee.
And they may be willing to use the so-called nuclear option to get what they want.
GOP senators said Monday that they expect the rules change proposal will come up this month as the caucus mulls deploying the “nuclear option” to force the measure through with only a simple majority instead of 60 votes.
“Sometime this month,” Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, asked about a timeline for the rules change as he headed into a weekly meeting in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.
Republicans are likely to have to go nuclear if they want to force through the rules change.
Lankford has said that he would like to implement the change with 60 votes, but no Democrats have said they will support his measure.
Republicans introduced a similar resolution during the previous Congress, but their narrow 51-seat margin left them unable to force through the change without help from Democrats. After the 2018 election they grew their majority to 53 seats, giving them more breathing room to get through the change.
President Trump has long been an advocate for using the nuclear option in the Senate, pressuring McConnell to take full advantage of the GOP’s simple majority to ram through nominees to executive positions and the courts. McConnell has been reluctant to follow through on the president’s promise, however, knowing all too well that once that genie is out of the bottle, it’s only a matter of time before Democrats regain the majority and use it against them.
Still, enough is enough. Democrats aren’t in Washington to govern these days – they are solely interested in blocking the Republican agenda so they can go home to their constituents and brag about being part of the #Resistance. When one party is no longer interested in making things work, Republicans are wholly justified in taking matters into their own hands.