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 TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed 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 Ann WarrenDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers Krystal Ball rips Warren's 'passive-aggressive' swipes at rivals MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAdvocacy groups decry Trump's 'anti-family policies' ahead of White House summit This bipartisan plan is the most progressive approach to paid parental leave Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' MORE (D-N.Y.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers Reject National Defense Authorization Act, save Yemen instead 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 PaulPentagon to take bigger role in vetting foreign students after Pensacola shooting Overnight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons Rand Paul: 'We need to re-examine' US-Saudi relationship after Florida shooting MORE (R-Ky.) — still voted to confirm 93 percent of his nominees.

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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.

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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 HarrisSanders revokes congressional endorsement for Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate New poll finds Sanders surging to within 7 points of Biden in South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate Booker cancels NH activities, campaign says he has the flu Trump neck and neck with top 2020 Democrats in Wisconsin: poll MORE (D-N.J.) have voted in favor of 17 percent and 15 percent of Trump's nominees, respectively. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Booker says he will not make December debate stage Yang: 2020 rivals in Senate should be able to campaign amid impeachment 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 BennetYang: 2020 rivals in Senate should be able to campaign amid impeachment Trump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Schumer to colleagues running for White House: Impeachment comes first 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 HeitkampPro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states MORE (D-N.D.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGinsburg health scare raises prospect of election year Supreme Court battle MSNBC's McCaskill: Trump used 'his fat thumbs' to try to intimidate Yovanovitch GOP senator rips into Pelosi at Trump rally: 'It must suck to be that dumb' MORE (D-Mo.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyGinsburg health scare raises prospect of election year Supreme Court battle Watchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world 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) ManchinSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump Manchin warns he'll slow-walk government funding bill until he gets deal on miners legislation MORE (D-W.Va.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Krystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? GOP braces for Democratic spending onslaught in battle for Senate 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 KingHillicon Valley: Pentagon pushes back on Amazon lawsuit | Lawmakers dismiss Chinese threat to US tech companies | YouTube unveils new anti-harassment policy | Agencies get annual IT grades Legislation to protect electric grid from cyberattacks added to massive defense bill Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE (I-Maine), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Watchdog report finds FBI not motivated by political bias in Trump probe Ex-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat MORE (D-Va.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperLobbying World Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Democrats give Warren's 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder MORE (D-Del.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenators zero in on shadowy court at center of IG report DOJ inspector general refutes Trump claim that Obama tapped his wires Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill 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 McConnellSherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for' McConnell: Bevin pardons 'completely inappropriate' House panel to hold hearing, vote on Trump's new NAFTA proposal MORE (R-Ky.), Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn On The Money: Trump, China announce 'Phase One' trade deal | Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records | House panel schedules hearing, vote on new NAFTA deal On The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA MORE (R-Texas) and Sens. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySeven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday White House makes push for paid family leave and child care reform MORE (R-Ariz.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerOn The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst on trade deal Republicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-N.D.) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerLet's enact a privacy law that advances economic justice There's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down Trade deal talks expand as Congress debates tech legal shield 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.