GOP leadership on Capitol Hill just invoked the controversial “nuclear option” on Wednesday. They changed Senate rules to speed up confirmation of President Trump’s nominees.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to end debate on executive appointments from 30 hours to two and the Senate voted 51-48 along partisan lines to do so.
This effort by McConnell comes in the wake of weeks of angst over the Democrats delaying actions against Trump’s appointments to key government and judicial posts.
The so-called “nuclear options” allows a change in Senate rules by a simple majority.
“It is time for this sorry chapter to end. It’s time to return this body to a more normal and reasonable process for fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities no matter which party control the White House,” McConnell said, referring to Democrats’ delaying Trump nominees.
“This is new. And it needs to stop.”
From the Senate floor, McConnell accused Democrats of engaging in “systematic obstruction.”
But Democrats fired back. They accused McConnell and the GOP of hypocrisy because of how they moved to block former President Obama’s appointments. Under the previous administration, McConnell denied a floor vote on Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
“I don’t know why they are continuing to pursue this except that they want to ram through judges, they want to ram through Justice Department people,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who is running for president.
The fact is, Democrats also used the nuclear option to suspend debate when they were in the majority.
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suspended the 60-vote requirement on most White House nominees when Obama was president to prevent GOP filibusters.
Back in 2017, McConnell applied the debate limit rule to Supreme Court appointments as well. That rule had lapsed and is being reinstated.
McConnell said during his speech on the floor that fights on presidential nominees date back to Sen. Chuck Schumer-led (D-NY) filibusters of Bush appeals court picks.