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Before the August recess, the Senate confirmed several dozen of President Trump’s nominees. The action on nominees was impressive. But until earlier this year, floor action on nominees had been moving at a snail’s pace.
Part of the problem was that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) decided not to fully utilize the procedural tools available to him under Senate rules and, with few exceptions, limited the weekly floor schedule to an average of fewer than three days each week. The limited floor schedule and failure to use procedural tools have allowed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democrats to slow the pace of nominees in an unprecedented way.
Obviously, there are bright spots. The Senate has confirmed two Supreme Court justices, 43 circuit court judges, and 99 district court judges. This tremendous success cannot be overlooked. Still, only 75 percent of President Trump’s nominees have been confirmed. At this point in President Obama and President Clinton’s first terms, 80 percent of their nominees were confirmed. Eighty-four percent of President George W. Bush’s nominees were confirmed by this point in his presidency.
The isn’t only the number of nominees confirmed, but how Democrats have weaponized cloture and forced roll call votes on even noncontroversial nominees. Of the 945 Trump nominees confirmed by the Senate to date, 223 have been subject to a cloture vote. Far fewer nominees were subject to cloture calls than those under President Trump.
Under Obama, a total of 13 nominees were subject to cloture by the same point in his presidency. Four nominees were subject to cloture under George W. Bush and ten under Clinton. Many nominees are confirmed with a broad majority of support. Tthe fact that Democrats have invoked cloture on so many nominees is clearly indicative of obstruction, rather than opposition to the nominees themselves.
Conservatives backed President Trump because he promised a bold, new vision for America. Conservatives backed him because he promised a conservative bench and an end to miles and miles of bureaucratic red tape. Only with a conservative judiciary, and the curtailment of an out of control administrative state will America regain its constitutional principles and bring about prosperity to all.
To make this possible, Democratic obstruction must end. McConnell must proceed with President Trump’s nominees at an even faster pace than prior to the August recess. It is possible, and it must be done.
Going from the current Senate calendar, there are less than two months left in the year to continue to confirm Trump’s nominees before 2020. Why 2020? Because politicians and pundits are kidding themselves if they believe that there is a real possibility of affecting real legislative victories in an election year, never mind a presidential one.
Senate Republicans must confirm Trump’s nominees if they want to be taken seriously by the conservative base. President Trump and Leader McConnell promised Republican voters a conservative federal bench, an issue that is critical for turnout next November. The Republican Senate has already confirmed a record number of judges, but there is still more work to do. Leader McConnell cannot let up. America's long-term future depends on confirming both conservative justices and administration officials. Grassroots conservatives also want a reason to be excited about 2020, and the Senate doing more to confirm nominees would help accomplish that goal.
Senate Republicans would do well to highlight the Democratic obstruction of critical nominees. Besides the outlandish, socialist proposals from 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls that involve government takeovers of swathes of the economy, the Democratic Party has little to run on besides obstruction.