Schumer threatens weekend votes to break GOP blockade of Biden nominees

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-N.Y.) is threatening to keep the Senate in session and voting over the weekend and into the week of Christmas to break a Republican blockade of President BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE’s nominees.

Schumer noted that the backlog of Biden nominees awaiting action in the Senate has grown to 158 because of holds placed by conservatives, including Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' MORE (R-Texas) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyMissouri Senate candidate says Congress members should go to jail if guilty of insider trading On The Money — Ban on stock trading for Congress gains steam The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE (R-Mo.).

“The Republican obstruction of President Biden’s nominees this year has reached a new low. We’ve had to file cloture on twice as many nominees at this point in the Biden administration than Republicans had to do under President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

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“Republicans are intentionally throwing sand in the gears of the Senate’s confirmation process. It’s not all of them, it’s a handful, but the others just go along,” he added. 

Schumer said the backlog of pending nominees “because of Republican obstruction” stands at 158 nominees, “the majority of which are held by only a small handful of Republicans."

He said that Democrats are working to clear as much of the backlog as possible through unanimous consent but warned that “if we cannot make much progress, we may need to stay and hold votes on nominees this weekend and next week until we do."

That threat could be problematic for Republican senators such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections The Armageddon elections to come MORE (R-Ky.) who may want to go home this weekend to help their constituents recover from damage caused over the past weekend by tornadoes.

Hawley has vowed to keep his holds on a number of Biden's nominees until there is "accountability" for the botched pullout of troops from Afghanstan. He has called for the resignation of several top defense and national security officials in exchange for lifting the holds.

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Cruz has maintained his holds over his opposition to the Biden administration’s decision to waive sanctions on a Russian gas pipeline.

The Texas Republican is offering to drop his hold on some of Biden’s ambassadorial nominees if Schumer agrees to give him a vote on legislation to place sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would ship natural gas from Russia to Germany. 

“I have an offer on the table,” Cruz said. “It’s in Schumer’s hands.”

Schumer, however, didn’t seem inclined Tuesday to accept that proposal. 

“He’s made a proposal and we’re making a counterproposal,” he told reporters, declining to comment on the details of his offer.