Senate Republicans are heading toward midterm elections with control of their chamber and the biggest advantage any majority party has had since 1790. Yet every week, the Democrats are allowed to work just 2.5 days before returning home to duke it out with their Republican challengers. That is, Mitch McConnell is allowing Democrats to hit the campaign trail hard while obstructing 139 of the president’s nominees.
In eight months, eight Republican seats and 26 Democratic seats are up for grabs.
That’s less than one sixth of GOP seats, and more than half of Democrats’ seats, including 10 in states President Donald Trump won in 2016 — half of which by 10 or more points. While three Republicans’ seats will be open elections, every one of the Democrats’ seats is defended by a working senator, or at least should be. Instead of working, however, these senators are clocking into the office late on Monday, generally starting the work week Tuesday morning, and heading back to the trail Thursday, often before lunchtime.
When you account for travel, that’s a full four days “working” from home: speaking with constituents, attending meetings, cutting ribbons, raising money. In other words, campaigning: making the case their Republican challenger should be defeated and they should be re-elected.
Executive governance is out of style. On Friday, while 26 Senate Democrats up for re-election went home to their states or elsewhere to speak and raise money with which to batter Republicans in November, 139 of the White House’s nominees languished in positions from undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs to director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.
According to the Senate rules Democrats and their Republican enablers love to cite, they have to wait 30 hours after ending debate. This has turned into three or so nominees confirmed a week, averaging 79 days a nominee, with McConnell himself griping that at this rate, it will take 11 years to confirm Trump’s nominees. That’s nearly three weeks longer than the average for President Barack Obama, whose appointees, meanwhile, form the backbone of the “resistance” inside our federal government — “the deep state” that liberals in the media like to pretend is some type of hallucination, possibly caused by “swamp gas.”
There is, however, another way.
Senate rules — specifically, Rule XXII — dictate that during the maximum allowed 30-hours of debate, senators can speak no more than twice, and for no more than an hour total. Senate rules are rarely entertaining, but forcing 30 senators to the floor every single time they wanted to play cute would be good for their health, and put some much-need fire under the Trump-Republican agenda. If three senators show up, then, the 30 hours would turn into three.
With this level of ruthlessness, McConnell would have little difficulty replacing “the resistance” with the president’s nominees. “The rules say the majority leader can force a talking ‘filibuster’ and limit it to two speeches per senator, so, about an hour per senator if they come down to talk,” Wesley Denton of the Conservative Partnership Institute, which has repeatedly warned of Republican weakness, told The Daily Caller. “They could probably get 10 or more done a week, and instead they’re just gifting it to Democrats.”
It’s true, Mitch McConnell doesn’t have a 60-vote majority in the Senate. It’s true that this Senate has twice as many people over 80 than it’s ever had, and its members’ age and health have made it more difficult to vote more than a few times. But it’s also true that Mitch McConnell has the power to make “the resistance” do their jobs, instead of spending their days in the field campaigning, safe in the knowledge that Obama’s men are still hard at work in this new government of theirs.