As of May 1st, there were 256 nominations by President Trump awaiting Senate action, 158 pending in committee and 98 pending on the Senate Calendar. Compared to the four previous Administrations, this Senate has confirmed the fewest nominees, and Sen. Chuck Schumer’s tactics have led to 108 fewer confirmations than the next closest Administration.
Our Constitution provides that the Senate shall provide its “advice and consent” to the President’s highest level executive and judicial branch appointments. But how does this work in practice?
President Trump’s Director of Legislative Affairs, Marc Short, explained that after an FBI background check, “the nominee then undergoes a hearing and the [Senate] committee then votes on the nominee to get out of that committee. At that point, the nominee moves to the Senate floor for full confirmation. Traditionally, the Senate routinely confirms the administration’s nominees once out of committee. It is there to respect the will of the American people and the election for an administration to fill out its roles under a new President.”
But that is not what is happening in practice. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, has regularly been requiring a cloture vote, which slows down the entire process. When a cloture vote is demanded, Senate rules require 30 hours of debate.
Short notes, “Senator Schumer is essentially weaponizing a Senate procedure and demanding cloture votes on our nominees that he even eventually supports. Eleven of the President’s nominees have been approved without a single dissenting vote, yet still forced to go through 30 hours of debate to essentially slow down the Senate calendar simply for the purpose of obstruction.”
According to Congress.gov there were a combined 18 cloture votes on nominations received in the Senate from the last four presidents to the same May 1st date in their administrations. However, there have been 89 cloture votes alone for President Trump’s nominees through May 1st.
As Short concludes, “at this rate, the United States Senate would take eleven and a half years to confirm our nominees.”