Senate Democrats are gearing up to challenge every appointee President-elect Donald Trump submits, according to a Monday report by Politico.
They don’t have the numbers to actually reject an appointee, but they do have the power to drag on the process as long as possible. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed the confirmation of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
“They’ve been rewarded for stealing a Supreme Court justice. We’re going to help them confirm their nominees, many of whom are disqualified?” fumed Sen. Sherrod Brown. “It’s not obstruction, it’s not partisan, it’s just a duty to find out what they’d do in these jobs.”
Most confirmations require 51 votes, an easy bar if every Republican holds the party line. Democrats do have the ability to force McConnell to hold procedural votes for the nominees. Ranking Democrats are promising a series of such votes.
Under the current rules, Democrats are prepared to force up to 30 hours of debate, according to Politico. Congress has limited hours, and the Trump transition team promises big projects in the first 100 days of the administration. Forced debates on countless appointees will certainly limit floor time to issues such as repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“I don’t want to needlessly prevent President Trump from being successful,” said Sen. Chris Coons. “But accelerating the confirmation of unacceptable candidates who have views that are outside the mainstream is not constructive.”
Despite calling attention to McConnell’s approach to the Supreme Court nomination, Democrats insist that their stalling isn’t partisan. “There should be recorded votes, in my view, on every one of the president’s Cabinet nominees,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “Having all of these hearings before the inaugural in a thorough and fair fashion seems very difficult to do.”
Republicans insist that they worked with Democrats when President Barack Obama ruled the White House, so Democrats should work towards a “smooth transition.”
“It is always the intention, at the start of a new administration, to have a smooth transition. That’s something President Obama recently called for and that Democrats always say they want,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell. “When the shoe was on the other foot, Republicans worked with Democrats to confirm the president’s Cabinet in a very, very timely manner.”
Some Democrats don’t agree with the idea of holding up appointments, but those tend to be vulnerable senators Claire McCaskill and Joe Manchin.
“My God, I think we should have an attorney general in place on Jan. 20. I sure do believe that,” Manchin told Politico.
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