(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Congressional Democrats continue to blockade President Donald Trump’s nominees, leaving gaping holes in his administration.
Since his inaugural address, Trump has made 257 appointments to crucial judicial and administrative positions, but only 55 have been confirmed by the Senate. This intentional delay is unprecedented — former President Obama had 206 of his nominees confirmed within his first six months.
These confirmation delays are attributed to Democrats’ insistence that Republicans go through the time-consuming cloture process, even for non-controversial nominees. This means that even though Democrats fully intend to support Trump’s nominees, they require Republicans to check all the procedural boxes before they do so, requiring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to request a formal cloture vote so the Senate can move forward.
This lengthy process was rarely used for past administrations. All but a few of Obama’s nominees were confirmed using fast-track procedures, including unanimous consent and voice vote. Only five of Trump’s nominees, however, have been confirmed this way.
“Not allowing the administration to take over the government is the wrong thing to do,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, a member of the Republican leadership. “It is unacceptable. It’s outrageous. Something has to change.”
The stagnation in confirmations has rendered the Trump administration under-equipped, leading the president to consider cancelling Congress’s summer recess and demanding lawmakers stick around to confirm his appointments.
In past administrations, elected officials understood the importance of filling in the executive’s empty positions. Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton had nearly all of their cabinet positions approved within the first two weeks they held office. It took nearly 40 days for President Trump to have 10 cabinet seats filled.
Democrats have not denied that they are intentionally slowing the nomination process. Their explanation continues to change, however. First they said they were upset Republicans rammed a few nominees through without proper paperwork, but now they admit they are holding the process hostage to how Republicans have handled the health care debate.
“Maybe once things change a little bit on health care, with the consent of my colleagues on this side of the aisle, we can move a lot of things quickly,” said Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, believes the Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot by prolonging delays in Senate confirmations. He said it gives the White House incentive to bypass the Senate, which will give the executive more power.
“We have never had a situation where several hundred key officials who run the government have not been examined by, and held accountable to, the United States Senate,” he said. “It makes the president more powerful and the Congress less powerful, and it gives the people less say into who the president is appointing, and what they are doing and how they conduct themselves.”
Many Republicans fear that the American people will suffer the most. By refusing to confirm Trump’s nominations, Democrats are crippling the administration. Fifty-eight senior administration positions are waiting to be confirmed still, despite a committee’s prior approval. Until these vacancies are filled, federal agencies cannot fulfill their statutory duties, jeopardizing the government’s efficiency.
Short said the Democratic blockade is becoming an issue of national security, and that denying the American people a fully staffed administration is a threat to their liberty as well.
“Democrats even walked out of committee hearings to deny quorums, like schoolchildren taking their toys from the playground,” he said. “But it is the American people who are being hurt.”