Mitch Goes Nuclear

Democrats "have chosen to endlessly relitigate the 2016 election rather than actually participate in governing."

Nate Jackson · Apr. 4, 2019

He’s been threatening to do it for weeks, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally pressed the button on another version of the nuclear option over confirmation votes. The rule change limits debate on district judges and most executive nominees to only two hours instead of 30. The rules do not change for Cabinet nominees or for nominations to appellate courts and the Supreme Court.

“Our colleagues across the aisle have chosen to endlessly relitigate the 2016 election rather than actually participate in governing,” McConnell said. “This problem goes deeper than today. We’re talking about the future of this very institution and the future functioning of our constitutional government.”

Long story short, as our Brian Mark Weber explained last month, Democrats were using and abusing a procedure under which “any senator can hold up the process and force the Senate to engage in a lengthy debate on each nominee.” Obstructionist Democrats had employed this strategy to force extra debate time (which they often don’t even show up for) and cloture votes on more than five times as many of President Donald Trump’s nominees — both judicial and executive — as the last 12 administrations combined. That not only delays nominations, it slows all Senate business to a crawl.

As The Wall Street Journal editorial board observes, this has crossed over into the theater of the absurd: “McConnell has offered the example of President Trump’s nominee — drum roll, please — to the Federal Railroad Administration. Ronald Batory had worked in the railroad industry for 45 years and attracted no opposition, yet the Senate blocked his nomination for more than 200 days. Another classic: A cloture vote on a nominee to run the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Who knew seasonal adjustment could be so controversial?”

Everything is controversial when all Democrats have is “Hate Trump.”

Judicial fights in particular have dominated the Senate for years, primarily because Democrats keep turning up the heat on Republican presidents. But Democrats were the ones who nuked the filibuster on judicial nominees in 2013. At the time, McConnell warned, “I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, you’ll regret this. And you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”

McConnell, who also orchestrated entirely blocking Merrick Garland from the Supreme Court, was right — to the crocodile-tear caterwauling of the Democrats. By the way, these battles might not be so fierce if leftist judges hadn’t turned the judiciary into the despotic branch with fiat rulings contemptuous of the Constitution.

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