In-Depth: Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) reintroduced this resolution from the 115th Congress to update the Senate rules for most Senate-confirmed nominees and thereby give President Trump greater ability to confirm his nominees. After this resolution passed the Senate Rules and Administration Committee this Congress, Sen. Lankford said:
“I am pleased to see our resolution pass the Rules Committee today. In the past, every President was essentially able to select their staff and begin serving the American people right after inauguration—until President Trump. In the past two years, Democrats have slowed the confirmation of more than 100 nominees, which has created a new low standard for how all future presidents will be treated. If we do not update our rules now, the Senate will continue down a new path of needless delays and even greater inefficiency. This rule update resolution represents an idea that anyone in the Senate, current or future, should be able to support: a functional, working Senate. This resolution would permanently end the needless time delays in the Senate confirmation process, while protecting extended debate time for high-level nominees. Post-cloture debate time should be used for debate, not meaningless delay on an empty Senate floor. I hope my colleagues see the importance of permanently correcting the Senate rules for nominations and will join us as we try to get the Senate back to work.”
Last Congress, Sen. Lankford (R-OK) proposed this variation on a rule enacted by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to shorten the amount of time the Senate spends debating mid-level judicial and executive nominations. He explained his rationale on “The Hugh Hewitt Show”:
“The Senate can only do one thing at a time. So if you’ve got 30 hours of debate on a nominee that’s going to pass, because when they come out of committee, we have the votes to pass them. They will pass. If you clog it up with 30 hours of debate for that person, that means you can’t debate other tax reform, you can’t move on legislation, you can’t work on regulatory issues, you can’t work on anything else, because you’re clogged up on that one. There was a bipartisan agreement on a rule very similar to this in 2013 when Harry Reid was there, to be able to work the process through, I’m invoking that to see if we can get 60 votes on it.”
Cosponsoring Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) adds that this bill addresses "unacceptable" obstruction by Senate Democrats:
"Senate Democrats have abused the rules to the point where the president can’t put his team in place and the Senate can’t do its work. The degree of obstruction we’ve seen during the first two years of the Trump Administration is totally unacceptable. This resolution will expedite the confirmation process by building on rules changes that were in place during the 113th Congress and widely supported on both sides of the aisle. I hope to see it voted on by the full Senate quickly so we can end the delay tactics and do the job the American people expect us to do.”
In the current Congress, this bill passed the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration by a 10-9 vote with the support of one cosponsor, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). Last Congress, it passed the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration with the support of four Republican cosponsors.
Of Note: For the previous three presidents, there were an average of eight cloture votes on nominations in the first two years of each president’s term. In the first two years of the Trump administration, cloture was filed on 148 of President Trump’s nominees (62 Judicial and 86 Executive) in the 115th Congress, and the Senate was forced to hold 128 cloture votes. If an additional cloture vote is required on each nominee, it could take over 2,000 days (almost 5.5 years) just for a president’s staff to be confirmed and judicial branch vacancies to be filled.
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: U.S. Senate / Public Domain)