When then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” to limit the GOP minority’s filibuster power, he never imagined that the Democrats would one day be in the minority. Well, now they are, and the nuclear door is open and they don’t have radiation suits.
Yesterday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell instituted another change to rein in the minority’s delaying power, this time bringing back a rule from Obama’s first term. Since it was changed, any Senator could force 30 hours of debate on any nominee, even after the Senate had voted to end debate and vote on a nomination. Democrats had been abusing this power to delay Trump nominees indefinitely. The nominees may be perfectly well qualified and have bipartisan support, and the offices for which they were nominated have been empty for two years and are in desperate need of being filled, yet the Democrats just kept delaying for no reason other than they hate Trump and refuse to accept that he’s President and has the right to appoint people.
McConnell said, “The comprehensive campaign by Senate Democrats to delay Senate consideration of presidential nominations is now more than two years old. It's time for this sorry chapter to end."
So he did something he perhaps should have done over a year ago. While changing the rule would’ve required a two-thirds vote, McConnell used a point of order upheld by a 51-48 vote to restrict the debate from 30 to two hours. (All the Democrats plus Republicans Susan Collins and Mike Lee voted no.)
It doesn’t apply to Cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court nominations, and appeals court judges. But nominees to federal district courts and offices in DC can finally start getting confirmation votes, after cooling their heels since 2016.
While there will be much wailing and rending of garments over this in the liberal media, Dan Calabrese probably summed it up best: “There is no way the Undersecretary of Agriculture for Rutabaga Husbandry needs 30 hours of Senate debate.”