After Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp

After Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp
© Greg Nash

The Senate confirmation process is broken. Democratic Senators have used the rules of the Senate to engage in an unprecedented conspiracy to obstruct President TrumpDonald John TrumpWH aides intentionally compose Trump tweets with grammatical mistakes: report Holder: DOJ, FBI should reject Trump's requests Ex-Trump campaign adviser rips claims of spy in campaign: It's 'embarrassing' MORE’s nominees over the past year in a way that sabotages the idea of making America great again. With President Trump’s nominee to be the next secretary of State, Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' Mike Pompeo raises the bar for a deal with Iran  MORE, as the latest near-victim, it might be time for the Senate to change the rules to eliminate Democrat’s fake filibusters of nominations.

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Democratic obstructionism on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was a great danger to national security. CIA Director Pompeo, whose nomination barely made it out of committee with a favorable recommendation, is President Trump’s designated diplomat to work on denuclearizing North Korea and any delay or stonewalling of the confirmation process hurts that effort. There is only one reason that Democrats on the committee would reject Pompeo, and nearly all of President Trump’s other nominations — pure partisanship.

The Senate’s rules are complex and arcane. The purpose of the filibuster rule is to allow extended debate, yet when the Democrats “filibuster” President Trump’s nominees, they don’t even bother to take to the Senate floor to offer debate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators near deal on sexual harassment policy change Blankenship third-party bid worries Senate GOP Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' MORE (R-Ky.) should force the Democrats to debate for every second it currently takes to confirm a nomination if Democrats are serious about obstructionism. Either make them debate or change the rules to shorten the time the minority party can obstruct nominations.

According to the Senate Republican Policy Committee (RPC) chaired by Senator John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Watchdog to probe EPA email preservation Overnight Energy: EPA moves to roll back chemical plant safety rule | NASA chief says humans contribute to climate change | Pruitt gets outside lawyer MORE (R-Wyo.):

“President Trump’s executive branch nominees are being confirmed at the slowest pace in decades, with only 364 confirmed through March 16, compared with 564 for President Obama.”

The problem is that Democrats are slowing these nominations down with parliamentary tricks and using the Senate’s rules in a way that slows work in the chamber to a crawl. No Democratic senators are brave enough to actually engage in a long debate to obstruct the president’s nominees. Instead, they are cowardly hiding behind the rules and using them to slow-walk the Trump agenda by using fake filibusters of nominations. They never actually engage in extended debate to slow the process — they merely state their intention to filibuster, and Senate Republicans are allowing them to get away with it.

According to the Senate RPC statistics, confirmations by the middle of March in the year after a president was inaugurated break down as follows: Presidents George H.W. Bush had 483 confirmations; Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMaybe a Democratic mayor should be president Trump, taxpayers want Title X funding protected from abortion clinics President Trump’s historic rescissions package is a welcome step to cut wasteful spending MORE had 600; George W. Bush had 600; Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHolder: DOJ, FBI should reject Trump's requests The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Frenzy over Kennedy retirement rumors | Trump challenges DOJ Asian American and Pacific Islander community will be critical to ensuring successful 2018 elections for Democrats MORE had 564; and, Donald J. Trump had only 364.

The irony is that Trump’s historically low confirmation number is happening while Republicans control the Senate. Senate Majority Leader McConnell needs to change the rules of the Senate that allows the minority to obstruct without actually taking to the Senate floor for debate or force obstructionist liberals to debate until they drop from exhaustion.

The filibuster is a great tradition of the Senate. Think of the most famous filibuster ever depicted, in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, when Jimmy Stewart plays an idealistic young Sen. Jefferson Smith who takes to the Senate floor to filibuster against corruption. The movie is one of the greats and romanticizes the talking filibuster in a way that does not reflect the reality of the filibuster today. Instead, the fake filibuster consists of the Democrats saying they want to force a “cloture” vote on a nominee, yet they never need to follow through with speeches.  

There have been some real talking filibusters in recent years. When Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) filibustered the Obama administration’s policies on drones during the nomination of John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanFox's Bartiromo: DOJ, FBI, IRS, CIA 'were all involved in trying to take down Donald Trump' Trump shares quote ripping Brennan: 'This guy is the genesis of this whole debacle' Voters Dems need aren't impressed by anti-waterboarding showboating MORE to be head of the CIA, Sen. Paul filibustered for nearly 13 hours. When Senator Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenators near deal on sexual harassment policy change Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Five Republican run-offs to watch in Texas MORE (R-Texas) spoke to stop funding ObamaCare, he spoke into the next day, for 21 hours. The Democrats fake filibuster of nominations today consists of zero debate; therefore, it is time for the Democrat fake filibuster to go.

A few years ago, senators agreed to lay down arms regarding nominations after the Democrats forced a rule change to help President Obama expedite his liberal nominees to the courts and his administration. First, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules MORE (D-Nev.) used the so called “Nuclear Option,” an abusive change of the rules he now regrets, to change the Senate’s rules to lower the vote threshold to end debate from 60 to a simple majority.

After the Democrats "broke the rules to change the rules", the parties agreed in 2013 to limit debate for most nominations. But that proposal only covered the 113th Congress and Democrats held the majority in the Senate at the time. Might make sense to give the Democrats a dose of their own medicine, by using the nuclear option to get rid of time for debate on nominations after the Senate votes to end debate or force the Democrats actually speak if they want to filibuster a nomination.

The filibuster is an important tool for Senators to have a say, yet the current use of the fake filibuster by Senate Democrats obstructs President Trump’s efforts to implement an America first foreign and domestic policy. It is time to play hard ball with Senate Democrats and make them work out in the open if they want to sabotage the future of American greatness.

Democrats are trying to sabotage the Trump presidency and they are hurting national security in the process — time for Republicans to end it.

Corey R. Lewandowski served as a campaign manager to Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States. He is co-author of “Let Trump Be Trump: The Inside Story of his Rise to the Presidency.” Follow him on Twitter @CLewandowski_.