Senate Majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell has triggered the nuclear option to stop Democrat obstruction of judicial nominees.
The Democrats have used their power in the senate to block President Donald trump’s lower court nominees but that is now coming to an end, Politico reported.
Senate Republicans used the “nuclear option” Wednesday to unilaterally reduce debate time on most presidential nominees, the latest in a series of changes to the fabric of the Senate to dilute the power of the minority.
The move by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately paves the way for quicker confirmation of President Donald Trump’s judicial and executive branch picks and comes amid deep GOP frustration with Democratic delays. Future presidents will benefit too, though McConnell and Trump stand to gain inordinately as they seek to fill 130 District Court vacancies over the next 18 months before the 2020 election.
The nuclear option — a change of the Senate rules by a simple majority — gained its name because it was seen as an explosive maneuver that would leave political fallout for some time to come. But it’s now been deployed three times in just six years amid continuous partisan warfare over nominations.
McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer engaged in an ugly round of recriminations ahead of the rules change, barely able to make eye contact as they groused at each other.
Schumer asserted that he was “so sorry that my Republican colleagues have gone along with Sen. McConnell’s debasement of the Senate.” The New York Democrat called the change “disgraceful” and said it was a “sad day in the Senate’s history.”
McConnell absorbed the criticism, cracking a smile at times as Schumer castigated him. Then he stood up and said Schumer was responsible for the quagmire, having launched filibusters of President George W. Bush’s nominees.
“He started this whole thing,” McConnell said, pointing at Schumer. “This is not a sad day. This is a glad day.”
Democrats are protesting now but there were silent when then Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid did the same thing in 2013.
The history of the nuclear option has been written at an increasingly rapid pace over the last two decades. The Senate defused the nuclear option and saved the filibuster during Bush’s presidency, but not before Schumer and other Democrats blocked Miguel Estrada’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court.
Nearly a decade later, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used the nuclear option to kill the 60-vote requirement on most nominees. In 2017, McConnell made that rule apply to Supreme Court appointments. Then on Wednesday came the latest change, which Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) called “Miguel Estrada’s revenge.”
This is a sad day for the Senate@SenateMajLdr McConnell brags about confirming more judges than anyone in a long time
But he wants to invoke the terribly destructive nuclear option to fast-track even more of President Trump’s ultra-conservative nominees https://t.co/pPHByGyaBp
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 3, 2019