There are over 1000 executive-branch positions that require Senate confirmation. (The New York Times says 1,054; Wikipedia counts 1,212.) If 30 hours of post-cloture debate occurred on all of them, that would be more than 30,000 hours of Senate floor time. There are 8,760 hours in a year. So if all the post-cloture debate time were used, the Senate might be able to complete the confirmation of a presidents initial slate of nominees some time in the middle of the presidents last year in office. And I havent even added in the judicial nominees.
Mistaken Attack on Senator McConnells Proposed Cloture Reform, Part 2
Bovards claim that McConnell could immediately call the vote if no one is seeking to use the time ignores the routine practice in which a senator, upon completing his or her remarks, suggests the absence of a quorum. That practice prevents the presiding officer (not McConnell) from calling the vote.
Bovard complains that senators are lazy. If so, why should McConnell find her alternative attractive? Her complaint that McConnells proposal allows them to be even lazier is an argument for the proposal, not against it. (Bovard also bizarrely complains that McConnell hasnt been forcing Democrats to use all of their allotted post-cloture time.)
Weekly Resistance: How to Take Action April 1-7
2.Bovard argues that the adoption of McConnells proposal would give the Senate greater incentive to go hard in the paint for judges, forsaking the rest of Trumps nominees.
I cant make heads or tails of this argument. McConnells proposal applies to district-court judges and most executive-branch nominees. So if you care about getting more of President Trumps political appointees in place, you should be supporting it.
“Sen. McConnell’s approach has always been to manipulate Senate rules when it helps him and then change Senate rules when the tables turn,” the New York Democrat said in a statement. “This is just another step in his effort to limit the rights of the minority and cede authority to the administration.”
3. Bovard argues that the adoption of McConnells proposal ultimately puts the 60-vote requirement for legislation at risk.
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.
Although she places it last, this, I suspect, is Bovards real reason. Its the same argument that some current and former Senate Republican staffers (perhaps including Bovard, certainly including some of her close associates) made back in November 2014 for restoring the judicial filibuster after Republicans won control of the Senate. I argued back then that that proposal was bonkers, and everything since then has vindicated my judgment. If youre happy with President Trumps judicial appointments—most of the best of whom have been confirmed with fewer than 60 votes—you should be delighted that that effort to restore the filibuster failed.
As I wrote back then, the long-settled tradition of the Senate has been to treat debate over nominations and legislation very differently, and its strange that some ardent proponents of the legislative filibuster insist on linking them. The legislative filibuster owes its continued existence not to any formal obstacle that would prevent a Senate majority from abolishing it but rather to a widespread, if increasingly fragile, consensus that it is valuable. Bovards contention that adoption of McConnells proposal would have any meaningful bearing on that consensus strikes me as highly speculative at best. And, contrary to what she argues, the payoff from adopting that proposal, both for judicial nominees and executive-branch nominees, would be high.
Mitch McConnells April Fools Joke
This consensus for climate action takes the form of the Waxman-Markey bill, the core element of which is “cap and trade.” Cap and trade is a politically-moderate proposal, which would set a gradually-diminishing cap on greenhouse gas emissions for large energy users and establish a market to trade these newly-valuable emissions rights. Republican Senator John McCain had proposed cap and trade in his presidential campaign one year earlier, and 60 percent of Americans favor implementation. It has every reason to pass.