New Congress, old tactics continue: Senate Democrats continue to obstruct and delay President Trump’s nominees, both executive and judicial candidates referred to the Senate for advice and consent. Democrats’ goal has been to obstruct, delay, and hinder President Trump’s mandate, in part by denying timely confirmation of his nominees. Today, we want to provide an example of this problem and offer updated statistics on how unprecedented these efforts have been.
First, a prime example of the problem:
Former RNLA Chair John Ryder was confirmed today as a member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Mr. Ryder was nominated more than year ago, early February 2018. He was pending on the Senate floor for some nine months, cloture was invoked to limit debate last week, and then he was confirmed with a simple voice vote.
In short, he was a non-controversial nominee, but his nomination was being used to tie up Senate Floor time to delay and deny President Trump’s nominees. This is a prime example of the continued obstruction by Senate Democrats.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander gave a speech on the Senate Floor before the confirmation vote of Mr. Ryder. He highlighted the problem and how the Senate is becoming dysfunctional and it is hurting our government:
[U]nfortunately, Mr. Ryder has been on the Senate calendar for nine months. He was nominated by President Trump a year ago. The problem has not been with Mr. Ryder because… the Present nominated him after he was thoroughly vetted by the FBI. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works considered him and had a hearing and reported him unanimously [favorably] to the Floor.
But, for over nine months, he waited there because of one reason: Democrats have consistently obstructed the ability of Senator McConnell and the Republican majority to help President Trump form his government.
[For] 128 times—Democrats have required Senator McConnell, the Majority Leader, to file a cloture motion to cut off debate to advance a nomination, like Mr. Ryder’s. This is not a Cabinet position. This is not a lifetime judge. This is a part-time board on an important institution.
But, it is the kind of position… one of 1,200 presidential nominees and any president has, subject to confirmation by advice and consent [of the Senate]. It’s the kind of nomination that if a committee unanimously reports to the Senate, we normally approved by voice vote.
Yet, on this vote, Senator McConnell was forced to file cloture a week ago. Then, we had to wait an intervening day. And, only then, could we come to this vote.
This is not the way the Senate is supposed to work. And, this obstruction has to stop…
Senate Alexander continued his remarks by urging the need to reform the cloture rule, so that Democrats are not able to abuse this important measure in their obstruction efforts.
Second, an update by the numbers:
Current nominations pending before the Senate:
- 6 circuit-level judicial nominees on the Senate Floor
- 5 other circuit-level judicial nominees pending before Senate Judiciary Committee
- 34 district-level judicial nominees
- 13 other nominees pending before Senate Judiciary Committee
- 5 other nominees to specialty courts (Tax, Military Commission Review) pending before other committees
- 128 nominees pending in various stages in the Senate (as of February 25, 2019)
Current judicial vacancies in the federal court system (this includes pending nominees listed above):
- 11 circuit-level judicial vacancies
- Of which, 8 (or 73%) are classified as judicial emergencies
- 126 district-level judicial vacancies
- Of which, 65 (or 52%) are classified as judicial emergencies
As Senator Alexander stated, "[t]his is not the way the Senate is supposed to work...[a]nd, this obstruction has to stop." Thank you to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Republican Senators who are working diligently to confirm President Trump’s qualified political and judicial nominees.