On Wednesday, new reports showed Senate Republicans moving forward with their plan to speed up the confirmation process for President Trump’s federal nominees, edging them closer to a “nuclear” battle against Democrats.
GOP Senators have increasingly stated their determination to end the obstructionist efforts of their Democrat counterparts, who have repeatedly stalled and drawn out confirmation hearings with theatrical filibusters.
Now, Republicans appear poised to use their “nuclear option” to force the approval of their requested changes to rules governing lengths of allotted debate time, which Democrats have used to filibuster Trump’s nominees.
Democrats reacted with incredulity to the move, with several suggesting they would be willing to adhere to the new rule changes for other presidents, but now for President Trump, while others simply blamed Republicans.
Republicans took the first official step Wednesday toward a rules change that would allow the Senate to speed up votes on some of the president’s nominees — setting the stage for what’s likely to become a “nuclear” confrontation.
While pleading for bipartisanship, GOP senators made clear they’ll likely act no matter what on a plan to cut the amount of debate time after filibusters to two hours on most presidential nominees, down from the 30 hours currently allowed under the rules.
The 10-9 party-line vote made clear that bipartisanship is unlikely, leaving Republicans with only one option if they want to force the new rules through in time for President Trump to benefit: use the “nuclear option” to approve the changes on a majority vote.
“Make no mistake. The Republicans can change this, and will,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican.
The issue, Republicans say, is that even though Democrats can’t unilaterally stop nominees, now that it takes just a majority vote to overcome a filibuster, they can still insist on using the full 30 hours’ debate that’s allowed even when a filibuster has been defeated.
And Democrats have done that repeatedly to Mr. Trump delaying his ability to fill hundreds of vacancies.
Democrats acknowledged things have gone off the rails, but blamed Republicans for poisoning the well when they blocked one of President Barack Obama’s prominent picks, Judge Merrick Garland, from earning a seat on the Supreme Court.
Several Democratic senators said they would be fine with giving a future president a speedier path for nominees — but won’t do it for Mr. Trump.