Senate Republicans To Officially Use Nuclear Option To Confirm Trump Nominees

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Henry Rodgers Chief National Correspondent
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The Senate voted Wednesday to shorten Democrats’ time obstructing President Donald Trump’s nominees on the floor in order to speed up the nomination process.

The vote was set up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday, with expectations that it would fail so that the so-called nuclear option could be used. McConnell introduced a procedural cloture vote Wednesday that was shut down 51-48. The cloture needed 60 “no” votes to fail, so McConnell entered a motion to reconsider the failed cloture vote, making it so Republicans only need a majority vote in order to use the nuclear option.

Senators voted 51-48 in order to speed up Trump nominees’ confirmation processes, which Democrats have continued to stall. Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine voted against the rules change.

The nuclear option will cut Democrats’ debate time from thirty hours to two hours, making the confirmation process for Trump’s nominees faster. Republicans would only need 51 votes to confirm a Trump nominee after the change.

McConnell called the Democrats’ actions “systematic obstruction” on the Senate floor Tuesday, saying it is “not targeted, thoughtful opposition to a few marquee nominations or rare circumstances. But a grinding, across-the-board effort to delay and obstruct the people this president puts up. Even if they have unquestionable qualifications. Even if the job is relatively low-profile.”

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as Sen. John Barrasso, Sen. John Thune, Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Roy Blunt, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Todd Young listen at the U.S. Capitol after the weekly Republican Senate policy luncheon January 09, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Other Republicans like Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said Democrats will oppose any nominee Trump puts forward.

“Over the past two years, some in this body have decided that they will oppose any nominee suggested by President Trump. There isn’t a senator in this room who serves their state’s interest when qualified, noncontroversial nominees are prevented from being confirmed,” Grassley said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “However, some members continue to do just that by slow walking the president’s nominees for partisan purposes.”

Senate Democrats, such as Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, have pushed back against the rules change, saying on the Senate floor Tuesday it is “an erosion of the Senate’s responsibility, in fact our sworn constitutional duty to advise and consent.”

Trump has previously called out Democrats for “slow walking” his executive nominees.

“Democrats in the Senate are still slow walking hundreds of highly qualified people wanting to come into government,” Trump wrote in a February tweet. “Never been such an abuse in our country’s history.” (RELATED: Senate Republicans Closer To Using Nuclear Option To Confirm Trump Nominees)

The president broke a record for the number of appeals court judges confirmed during the first half of a presidency.

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