WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blocked a Department of Defense nominee sent from the Trump White House Thursday over Democrats’ demands on the health care bill.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, attempted twice to get a floor vote set for Trump’s nominee for deputy defense secretary, but was stifled each time by Schumer.
“Tomorrow, the current deputy secretary of defense, Bob Work, will leave his office — tomorrow. There simply is no more time to delay in moving the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan,” McCain said on the Senate floor.
Democrats have been blocking Trump nominees for months using parliamentary tactics that favor the minority and slow down business of the Senate set by the majority. For example, Democrats demand 30 hours of floor debate prior any up or down vote on a Trump nominee, which can take days to wrap up.
“Because Senate Democrats are blocking a vote on the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan to be Deputy Secretary of Defense, we had to file cloture to overcome their filibuster,” spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Don Stewart said in an e-mail statement.
He later added, “Keep in mind, Democrats don’t oppose the nomination, they’ve just been stalling on him and several other DoD nominations that they don’t oppose. His nomination cleared the committee last month by voice vote. If you’re not seeing a pattern, you’re not paying attention.”
McCain initially proposed a vote on Shanahan to fill the DoD number two post, but Schumer objected countering that a vote for Monday night should happen instead.
“We’d be happy to consider the nominee in regular order and maybe once things change a little bit in healthcare we can, with the consent of my friends on this side of the aisle, move a lot of things quickly,” Schumer said.
“You can choose to vote ‘no,’ you can choose to vote ‘yes,’ but let’s just vote,” McCain said. “The obstruction has gone on long enough and it has to stop.”