Senate

Democrats block rule change on Trump nominees; GOP set to go nuclear

Stefani Reynolds

Senate Democrats blocked a resolution on Tuesday that would drastically cut down on the time it takes to confirm hundreds of nominations.

Senators voted 51-48 on taking up the resolution, falling short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the hurdle.

The move paves the way for Republicans to deploy the “nuclear option” Wednesday, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has teed up two nominations.

{mosads}Republicans believe they have the 51 votes to force through the rules change by only a simple majority.

Under the change, the time for debate on certain sub-Cabinet and judicial nominations would be reduced to as little as two hours. Right now, even after an agreement to limit debate, debate for each nomination can take as long as 30 hours.

McConnell made his caucus’s case for the rules change, accusing the Democrats of “across-the-board heel-dragging” on Trump’s picks.

“Systematic obstruction. Not targeted, thoughtful opposition to a few marquee nominations or rare circumstances but a grinding, across-the-board effort to delay and obstruct the people this president puts up, even if they have unquestionable qualifications, even if the job is relatively low-profile,” McConnell said ahead of the vote.

Democrats were widely expected to vote against the resolution, which is similar to a 2013 measure that passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

But Democrats argue that the difference since then is the nixing of the 60-vote filibuster in 2013 by Democrats for most nominations and Republicans moving circuit court picks despite the objections of home-state senators.

“For Leader McConnell to brag about confirming more judges than ever before and then complain about Democratic obstruction and say the process is broken so he has to change the rules is the height of hypocrisy,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in a Politico op-ed.

He added that “notwithstanding Senator McConnell’s apparent April Fools’ joke, staffing the government is serious business.”

Tags Charles Schumer Filibuster Mitch McConnell Nuclear option

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