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It may be a new year, but Senate Democrats are continuing on a course of obstruction. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants to slow down the confirmation process of President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet nominees.
In a recent Washington Post story, Sen. Schumer indicated that his conference planned to target eight nominees, including Scott Pruitt, who is President-elect Trump's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), the nominee to serve as director of the White House Office of Budget and Management (OMB).
The new Democratic leader, according to the report, "wants at least two days of hearings for each of these eight nominees" spaced over the course of separate weeks, "with no more than two Cabinet picks sitting for a hearing in the same week." This would push confirmation votes on at least some nominees into March.
Sen. Schumer's demand is unprecedented. Going back to the confirmation of President Ronald Reagan's cabinet nominees in 1981 through the beginning of President Barack Obama's first term in 2009, 32 nominees were confirmed on January 20, the day a new administration takes power. Between January 21 and January 31, 34 were confirmed. Only 20 nominees were pushed into February or later.
Individually, Reagan saw 15 of his cabinet nominees confirmed on or before January 20. Only two of Reagan's nominees were confirmed in February or after. President George H.W. Bush carried over three cabinet members from the Reagan administration and saw six of his nominees confirmed between January 21 and January 31. Four were confirmed in February, and five were confirmed in March or later.
President Bill Clinton had three of his nominees confirmed on January 20. Fourteen were confirmed between January 21 and January 31. Only one, Janet Reno, Clinton's nominee for attorney general, was confirmed after January. President George W. Bush saw seven nominees confirmed on January 20 and eight confirmed between January January 21 and January 31. Three were confirmed in February or after. President Barack Obama carried over one cabinet member, Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Seven of his cabinet appointees were confirmed on January 20. Six were confirmed between January 21 and January 31. Five were confirmed in February or after.
Through the historical lens, Sen. Schumer's demand isn't vetting; it's obstruction.