Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand

Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand
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The senators who are most likely to reject President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE's nominees are the very ones who want to challenge him in 2020.

The Hill's review of 2 ½ years of vote totals shows Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPentagon charts its own course on COVID-19, risking Trump's ire Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Hillicon Valley: Uber to lay off thousands of employees | Facebook content moderation board announces members | Lawmakers introduce bill to cut down online child exploitation Democrats introduce legislation to protect children from online exploitation MORE (D-N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel Biden wins Hawaii primary Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden MORE (I-Vt.) voted against more Trump nominees than any other senator.

At the same time, Republicans voted virtually in lockstep for Trump's nominees; the average GOP senator backed 99 percent of his picks, and the one who went rogue most often — Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Congress headed toward unemployment showdown Doctors push Trump to quickly reopen country in letter organized by conservatives MORE (R-Ky.) — still voted to confirm 93 percent of his nominees.


Trump's picks to fill positions in his administration and the judiciary illustrate an increasingly partisan divide in the Senate between Republicans who vote to confirm almost every nominee and Democrats who reject the vast majority.

The average Democrat has voted to confirm just 38 percent of Trump's nominees.

And that number has been falling in recent months.

In the 115th Congress, the average Democrat backed roughly 39 percent of Trump's nominees. In the first six months of the 116th Congress, that number fell to 34 percent, according to data provided by Quorum Analytics, a public affairs data firm.

This year, leading the charge against Trump's nominees are many of the candidates who are running against him in 2020.

Warren and Gillibrand have voted in favor of just 11 percent of Trump's nominees over the last 2 ½ years. The two Democrats have voted to confirm only six of his judicial nominees — all in the 115th Congress. This year, they have voted to confirm just three of Trump's nominees, including two members of the Export-Import Bank and a member of the Federal Highway Administration.


Sanders has voted to confirm only 12 percent of Trump's nominees, but he has not voted to confirm a single Trump nominee this year. Sanders even opposed the three nominees Warren and Gillibrand voted to confirm.

Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump retweets personal attacks on Clinton, Pelosi, Abrams It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Coal company sues EPA over power plant pollution regulation | Automakers fight effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards | EPA watchdog may probe agency's response to California water issues MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerStakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Booker introduces bill to create 'DemocracyCorps' for elections MORE (D-N.J.) have voted in favor of 17 percent and 15 percent of Trump's nominees, respectively. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharPoll: Biden leads Trump by 5 points in Minnesota The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US death toll nears 100,000 as country grapples with reopening It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-Minn.) has voted to confirm 38 percent of those nominees, putting her in line with the average Senate Democrat.

But in what may be a sign of just how important opposing Trump is to the Democratic base, Klobuchar's voting record changed noticeably in the run-up to her decision to enter the presidential field. In the 115th Congress, she voted to confirm 84 of Trump's 180 nominees, or about 47 percent. In this Congress, she has voted to confirm fewer than one in 10 nominees.

"For people who seek the nomination, opposing Trump and in particular conservative judges will be a positive for party activists," said Sarah Binder, a political scientist at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetCongress headed toward unemployment showdown Fight emerges over unemployment benefits in next relief bill Job losses approach Depression territory as election looms MORE (D-Colo.), another 2020 contender, has voted to confirm half of Trump's nominees, more than all but seven other members of the Democratic caucus.

Those seven members who have voted to confirm more than half of Trump's nominees reflect the centrist flank, whose ranks were thinned in 2018 when former Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE (D-N.D.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillSenate faces protracted floor fight over judges amid pandemic safety concerns Amash on eyeing presidential bid: 'Millions of Americans' want someone other than Trump, Biden Senators poke fun at Warner over tuna melt: 'I think you're doing it wrong' MORE (D-Mo.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (D-Ind.) all lost their reelection bids.

The centrist coalition is anchored by two Democrats who won reelection in red states last year: Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinStakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December Congress headed toward unemployment showdown MORE (D-W.Va.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Memorial Day during COVID-19: How to aid our country's veterans Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added legal protections MORE (D-Mont.). Manchin has voted to approve three-quarters of Trump's nominees. Tester has voted for 55 percent of those nominees.

A new member, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), has so far voted to approve two-thirds of Trump's nominees.

Sens. Angus KingAngus KingMemorial Day weekend deals latest economic blow to travel industry Bipartisan senators introduce bill to make changes to the Paycheck Protection Program Senators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day MORE (I-Maine), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGrenell says intelligence community working to declassify Flynn-Kislyak transcripts McConnell gives two vulnerable senators a boost with vote on outdoor recreation bill The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of another relief package; Warner says some businesses 'may not come back' at The Hill's Advancing America's Economy summit MORE (D-Va.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens coronavirus funds for states easing voting OVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey EPA's Wheeler grilled by Democrats over environmental rollbacks amid COVID-19 MORE (D-Del.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsCongress must fill the leadership void Congress headed toward unemployment showdown Trump declines to say if he's 'standing by' nominee under investigation MORE (D-Del.) have all voted for more than half of Trump's nominees, the data shows.

Fifteen Republican senators have never voted against one of Trump's nominees, and five senators — Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Democratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies MORE (R-Ky.), Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynBottom line Five questions about the next COVID-19 relief package Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting MORE (R-Texas) and Sens. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Where Biden, Trump stand in key swing states Abrams announces endorsements in 7 Senate races MORE (R-Ariz.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerTrump tries to soothe anxious GOP senators Trump cites 'Obamagate' in urging GOP to get 'tough' on Democrats Obama tweets 'vote' after Trump promotes 'Obamagate' MORE (R-N.D.) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerGOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill Senators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day Hillicon Valley: Facebook permanently shifting thousands of jobs to remote work | Congressional action on driverless cars hits speed bump during pandemic | Republicans grill TikTok over data privacy concerns MORE (R-Miss.) — have never missed a vote on a Trump nominee.

Paul, the Republican outlier, has voted against 16 Trump nominees, more than any other member of his party.

The partisan divide over presidential nominations reflects a long-term trend toward what activists in both parties see as increasingly high-stakes positions.

The vast majority of nominations confirmed by the Senate in the first two centuries of American history did not even require roll call votes, because significant opposition was so rare, said Binder.

But in the past three decades, those roll call votes have become increasingly frequent as judicial nominees in particular became important to party activists, first on the Republican side and now among Democrats too.

"We don't often have recorded roll call votes routinely until you hit the '90s, when you had Republican reactions to [former President] Clinton's nominees," Binder said. "There was much less opposition. Not to say that there was no opposition, but judges hadn't become such a cause for Republicans."

The Trump administration has faced a particularly divided Senate, in part because Trump nominated so few candidates for low-level and noncontroversial positions, said Terry Sullivan, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina and executive director of the White House Transition Project, a nonpartisan advisory group.

Trump offered fewer nominees in his first two years in office than former Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Obama did in their first 12 months. He also announced and then withdrew more nominees than the last five presidents combined. Those he did nominate tended to be for more high-profile positions that are more likely to start partisan fights.

But the polarization of the nominating process long predated Trump. It has been exacerbated in recent years as separate Senate majorities have changed the rules to reduce the number of votes a given nominee needs to achieve to advance, Sullivan said.

The most recent rules change, lowering the threshold at which Supreme Court nominees could reach cloture, further removed incentives for any administration to reach bipartisan consensus.

"In order to get some nominees through the process that would previously not [have] managed to get through, the Senate majority has taken a dramatic swing to the right, moving the average Senate confirmation much closer to its own right wing and away from the majoritarian middle among the Senators," Sullivan said.