Was it wrong for the Senate to shorten debate time on presidential nominees? | The Tylt

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Was it wrong for the Senate to shorten debate time on presidential nominees?

McConnell has pushed hard for the rule change, writing an op-ed in Politico claiming the minority party was blocking presidential nominees out of spite and partisanship. 

It’s been 354 days and counting in Senate purgatory for the president’s nominee to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Two-hundred eighty-seven days and counting for the under secretary of state for management. Noncontroversial lower court nominees have languished for weeks and weeks — for no discernible reason — before they, too, were confirmed unanimously. These are just a few examples of the historic obstruction Senate Democrats have visited upon President Trump’s nominees for two years and counting.
...We aren’t talking about limited opposition to a few high-profile nominees or unusual circumstances. It’s mindless, undiscriminating obstruction for the sake of obstruction. Even uncontroversial lower-level nominees whom literally no senators oppose are not spared.

The New York Times writes President Trump has been pushing McConnell to adopt the rule change for some time as he grew progressively more frustrated at the fact his nominees were not being accepted. 

Mr. Trump expressed his frustration over the logjam during his hourlong appearance at the Republicans’ weekly lunch in the Capitol last week.
“This is crazy,” he said, according to two people in the room. “We have all these people, ambassadors, who have put their whole lives on hold” waiting to be confirmed.
A day later, Mr. McConnell, speaking at a second strategy lunch with his conference, blasted Mr. Schumer and claimed he was avoiding a compromise out of fear that he would be publicly attacked by liberals in his party.

McConnell claims by preventing nominees from being passed through the Senate, the minority party is preventing the American people from being represented as they see fit.

“Is this how American government is supposed to work from here on out?” asked McConnell. “Whichever party loses the White House basically prohibits the new president from standing up an administration?”
...“The American people deserve the government they elected. They deserve for important positions to be promptly filled with capable individuals — not held open indefinitely out of political spite,” McConnell said.

It's worth noting McConnell lead the complete stonewalling of Barack Obama's Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland.


The New York Times editorial board expressed extreme frustration at the new rule changes, claiming the Senate was in a "spiral."

The Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, charged that the move “risks turning this body into a colosseum of zero-sum infighting, a place where the brute power of the majority rules, with little or no regard to the concerns of the minority party, and where longstanding rules have little or no meaning.”
...Someone needs to stop the spiral. There is much about Senate processes that should be reformed. But razing the body’s deliberative culture for partisan gain serves no one well, whichever side does it. Each line crossed makes the next one that much less daunting. This latest power grab has prompted concern about when the Senate will end the legislative filibuster. Such defanging of the minority would likely be a tough sell among lawmakers. But, as with confirmations, the 60-vote requirement on legislation would most likely end in stages, starting with baby steps like requiring only a simple majority to open debate.

Many Democrats worried that despite McConnell's claims that he was trying to prevent partisanship, he was, in fact, strengthening it. Per Talking Points Memo

Shortening the debate time, they maintain, would allow Republicans to run roughshod over them. The hurdles and hoops required to win confirmation should be difficult, they say, as a means to ensure nominees are ethical and qualified and responsive to requests by senators for information.
“The purpose of these rules is to reject partisanship so that we can get nominees who will put the good of the country before politics,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. “If we eliminate this crucial check on our democracy, allowing the majority to ram through these appointments, we will undermine our democracy and our government.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein put out a statement saying there was no way the Senate could effectively vet nominees in such a short amount of time. 

Changing the rules is not only unnecessary, but also is dangerous, especially when we are talking about lifetime appointments. Further, given this administration’s failure to properly vet its own nominees, the Senate should not restrict critical vetting and due diligence.
There is simply no need to limit debate on President Trump’s judicial nominees. In fact, President Trump’s judicial nominees have been confirmed at a record pace.
...It is also important to stress why it is so dangerous to allow the Trump administration to stack the courts in this way, without adequate debate time.
We have seen this administration fill lifetime positions with young, inexperienced nominees who are often outside the legal mainstream. And we have seen them try to do this without properly vetting those same nominees, as in the case of Brett Talley, who failed to disclose to the Judiciary Committee nearly 15,000 online comments, including one in which he defended the founder of the KKK.
...Two hours is simply not enough time to scrutinize these nominees’ records, especially when so many of this administration’s judicial nominees fail to disclose materials to the Judiciary Committee.
Was it wrong for the Senate to shorten debate time on presidential nominees?
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