Democrats Plan to Use Confirmation Hearings for Revenge
Several Democrats in the Senate have vowed to punish Republicans for their treatment of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland by making it as difficult as possible to confirm Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointments. According to a feature story in Politico, multiple Senate Dems are preparing to drag out confirmation hearings well into Trump’s first 100 days, potentially leaving several executive agencies without leadership for the first half of 2017.
“They’ve been rewarded for stealing a Supreme Court justice. We’re going to help them confirm their nominees, many of whom are disqualified?” Sen. Sherrod Brown asked Politico. “It’s not obstruction, it’s not partisan, it’s just a duty to find out what they’d do in these jobs.”
For the most part, Trump’s nominees only need 51 votes, meaning there is little the Democrats can do to block them. At the same time, there are parliamentary procedures available to them that can make the confirmation process last much longer than the GOP would like. Through procedural votes, the Democrats can force Republicans to entertain up to 30 hours of debate per nominee. With the Senate accustomed to sparse working hours, this could eat away at the Trump/GOP momentum and push their conservative agenda back to the summer.
How tolerable this will be for the American people remains to be seen. The Democrats can cry “Garland” all day long, but it may not stick to the Republicans as well as they might hope. As Politico pointed out, the GOP did not play the obstructionist card on Barack Obama’s initial Cabinet nominations:
Eight years ago, when the roles were reversed, with Barack Obama taking office and an all-Democratic Congress, Republicans were mostly deferential to the incoming president. On Obama’s first day in office, the Senate confirmed seven of Obama’s Cabinet nominees. By the end of that week, it had cleared more than a dozen senior-level positions, all without dissent except for Hillary Clinton’s nomination to be secretary of state, for which the GOP demanded a roll call.
Even so, Brown isn’t the only Democrat talking the language of obstruction. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois all hinted that Trump’s nominees could be in for a rough ride.
“Past is present, and what goes around comes around,” Feinstein said. “Now, those are pretty hackneyed sayings, but those are really true around here.”
Feinstein and the rest of the Democrats in the Senate are still in denial about what happened three weeks ago. They think it’s still business as usual. They’ve already forgotten that the mainstream media, which they’ve used to smear Republicans for decades, is rapidly losing its influential power. They’ve forgotten that President Trump will not be silent while they try to cripple his incoming administration.
Oh, but they will be reminded. Very soon, they will be reminded. And they will realize that, as devastating as their 2016 defeat was, there is still plenty of room for the Democratic Party to fall.