Republicans in the Senate are currently discussing a potential rule change that would shorten the amount of time allotted for debating many presidential nominees during the confirmation process. This comes amid growing frustration from what the GOP views to be Democratic stonewalling of President Donald Trump‘s picks.
So far, 300 of President Trump’s nominations have been confirmed, compared to President Barack Obama‘s 418 at this point in his presidency, 493 for President George W. Bush, and 471 for President Bill Clinton. The confirmations of Trump’s nominees have taken an average of 72 days, while Obama’s took 51, Bush’s took 36, and Clinton’s took 38.
Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) is pushing for the measure, which would only limit time after nominees pass an early hurdle and demonstrate sufficient Senate support. It only applies to non-Cabinet nominees, and would shorten a 30-hour period to eight, except for district court nominations, which would have their debate time shortened to two hours. Time for Supreme Court and Circuit Court nominations would remain unchanged.
Lankford lamented that the current system takes up way too much of the Senate’s time, limiting their ability to actually legislate.
“We have learned as a body that we are either going to do nominees, or we are going to do legislation, but we can’t do both,” Lankford said, according to The Hill.”The Senate cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.”
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) agrees that cutting time is good idea.
“It merely shortens what is currently an unreasonably long process,” he said.
Democrats passed a similar rules change when they controlled the Senate in 2013, but that change only applied to the then-current 113th Congress. Lankford’s resolution would apply in the present and future.
This wouldn’t be the first nomination-related rule change this year. Senate Republicans famously eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in order to facilitate the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch. Democrats had done the same for other nominees in 2013.
[Image via NBC screengrab]