Republicans are mulling changing the Senate’s rules to speed up consideration of President Trump’s nominees.
GOP senators want to cut down the amount of debate time needed to confirm hundreds of the president’s picks, arguing Democrats are using the Senate’s rulebook to stonewall and slow-walk nominees and the GOP agenda.
Republicans have been privately discussing the potential changes for months, reports The Hill, but support for the move appears to be growing amid mounting frustration about the pace of nomination votes.
“It merely shortens what is currently an unreasonably long process,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.
The panel held its first hearing of the year before the holidays to discuss the measure from GOP Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).
The freshman senator wants to limit the amount of debate time on nominations after they’ve already cleared a procedural hurdle and shown they have enough support to pass.
Under Lankford’s resolution, post-cloture debate for non-Cabinet nominees would shrink from 30 hours down to eight hours. For district court nominees — whose decisions can be overturned by federal circuit courts or the Supreme Court — debate would be limited to two hours.
Lankford argued that with nominees able to eat up days of Senate floor time, the chamber is increasingly having to choose between confirming a president’s nominees or passing legislation.
“We have learned as a body that we are either going to do nominees, or we are going to do legislation, but we can’t do both. … The Senate cannot walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said.
The proposal would be similar to a provision from a 2013 resolution on limiting debate for most nominations, which passed the Senate by a 78-16 vote. Democrats controlled the chamber at the time.
That resolution, unlike Lankford’s which would apply to future sessions of the Senate, only governed the rules for the 113th Congress.
The committee canceled a markup over Lankford’s proposal due to the Senate’s schedule. A spokesperson for Shelby said it had not yet been rescheduled, but a spokesman for Lankford said they were hoping for a markup in January.
Republican senators and conservative outside groups have grown increasingly frustrated with what they view as Democratic stonewalling, as noncontroversial nominees have been forced to wait through days of floor debate.
As of Thursday, the Trump administration has had 300 nominations confirmed by the Senate, with an additional 177 currently working their way through the upper chamber’s pipeline, according to a tracker by The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service.
That lags behind former President Obama who had 418 nominations confirmed by the Senate at the same time, while former President George W. Bush had 493 and former President Clinton had 471.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
December 29th, 2017
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