February 06, 2019

Chairman Blunt, Senator Lankford Introduce Resolution to Reduce Needless Delays for Senate-Confirmed Nominees

WASHINGTON – Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Senator James Lankford (Okla.) today introduced a resolution to update the Senate rules for most Senate-confirmed nominees. The resolution would reduce the 30 hours of post-cloture debate time to two hours for most nominees, including many Executive Branch nominees and district court judges, while maintaining 30 hours for high-level nominees, including Supreme Court Justices and Cabinet-level officials. The resolution builds on a standing order introduced by former Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that was in place only during the 113th Congress.

“The president deserves to have his team in place, regardless of whether or not one party agrees with the election results,” said Blunt. “Instead, Senate Democrats spent the first two years of the Trump administration dragging out the confirmation process to not only deny the president his team, but also to waste hours of floor time that should have been spent focusing on the American people’s priorities. Over and over again, Senate Democrats have demanded cloture votes only to spend little to no time debating the nominees, many of whom were ultimately confirmed with overwhelming bipartisan support. This has been nothing more than obstruction for the sake of obstruction and it is outrageous. This resolution will get the Senate back to functioning as it should under the Constitution – in its role of advice and consent.”

“In the last two years, the confirmation process has been mired in unprecedented political stall tactics,” said Lankford. “The Senate nomination process needs to function efficiently again. Presidents, regardless of their party, should be able to pick their staff. It’s the Senate’s role to ensure nominees are capable and qualified; we have a responsibility to provide advice and consent. Needless obstruction of that process is a failure of our duty. This resolution would permanently reduce post-cloture debate time for most nominations and allow the Senate to fulfill a primary constitutional duty of advice and consent. It is time to update the Senate rules so the nomination process can function appropriately again."

In the past, most nominees did not require a cloture vote at all, so they came to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote quickly. In the 114th Congress, with a Democratic president and Republican-controlled Senate, cloture was filed on zero judges and two Executive Branch nominations. However, in the last two years, nominees faced cloture votes at an unprecedented rate. Cloture was filed on 148 of President Trump's nominees (62 Judicial and 86 Executive) in the 115th Congress, and the Senate held cloture votes on 127 of them. Further, once cloture is filed, the current rules of the Senate require at least one full "intervening day" plus up to 30 hours of additional debate after cloture is invoked, which has slowed nominations to a glacial pace in the Senate.