Some Republicans Want Rule Changed To Stop Dem Obstruction

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Kerry Picket Political Reporter

WASHINGTON — Some Republicans hinted Monday they are ready to strike back at Democrats for “abusing” a Senate procedure to slow down President Trump’s nominees.

“I’m in favor of it. I was in favor of it when we talked about it earlier. If Democrats continue to be obstructionists like that have been I think we would have to start looking at that option very seriously,” Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barasso told The Daily Caller Monday.

Although all presidential appointments now only require a simple majority vote (known as a cloture vote) to move forward from debate for a final up or down vote, the minority can still demand 30 hours of non-continuous floor debate before the procedure.

Previously, all presidential appointments required 60 votes in the chamber to move forward from debate to a final vote, but when Democrats had the majority, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid changed the rules so only a simple majority for cloture was necessary for all appointments — with the exception of Supreme Court picks.

During Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation earlier this year, Republicans changed the cloture rule to include SCOTUS picks to require only a simple majority vote.

However, the 30-hour debate rule remained, and Democrats have used the procedure to drag out Trump appointments over long periods of time — to the frustration of Republicans.

“I thought it should have been reformed a long time ago. Yeah. We had an agreement several sessions ago to do two, four, and eight. And there’s And there’s no reason why we should ever be on eight for anything other than a Supreme Court nominee…It should definitely be reformed,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford told TheDC.

Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby appeared to be in agreement with his colleagues telling TheDC, “I’m open to anything that moves the process in a fair way.”

The Senate confirmed deputy defense secretary nominee Patrick Shanahan Monday after Democrats wrapped up 30 hours of their demanded scheduled debate. Shanahan received over 60 votes during the cloture roll call.

However, Shanahan’s confirmation, like others, only came months after he was first nominated by the president. The deputy defense secretary was nominated to his role on March 16. Although Shanahan was voice voted out of committee last month, his nomination was still stalled.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made no indication he will change the 30-hour debate rule, but his floor remarks before Shanahan’s confirmation Monday show the Kentucky Republican appears to be angry enough to listen to his conference members on the issue.

“So it doesn’t really matter whether the nominee has been nominated to serve in the judiciary,  or work as an ambassador, or serve in the Treasury Department, or head an intelligence agency, or sit on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Democrats have shown time and again that they are willing to force needless procedural votes on nominees they actually support in order to waste the Senate’s time — and, presumably, with the simultaneous goal of impeding the president’s ability to make almost any appointments at all. If this trend continues, it will take us more than 11 years to confirm the remaining presidential appointments. Let me repeat that. More than 11 years. A presidential term lasts 4,” McConnell said.

Follow Kerry on Twitter