While House Democrats struggled to provide their “overwhelming evidence” against President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was focused on an agenda of his own. With the media’s attention fixed on the House as the impeachment hearings waged, Senator Republicans confirmed more than a dozen additional judges before the end of 2019. In the first two years of Trump’s presidency, Leader McConnell helped him set a record for the number of appeals judges confirmed, a stark contrast to House Democrats’ lack of productivity since the president took office. Thanks to the leadership of Senator McConnell, the Senate has successfully confirmed a total of 187 of President Trump’s federal circuit and district nominations, a number that will only continue to increase as we move into the new year.
The Constitution gives the Senate the responsibility of confirming presidential nominations and cabinet members, which has become an increasingly time-consuming duty as the number of appointments has grown considerably. In an effort to slow down the appointment process, Senate Democrats have exploited procedural rules that require 30 hours of debate. This forced the majority to spend 30 hours of floor time on each nominee, a right that has been traditionally waved by the minority in the past. This is the latest example of partisan politics at its worst and sends a clear message that Democrats continue to resist President Trump at every turn. The Democrats’ refusal to cooperate left Leader McConnell with no choice but to use the “nuclear option” to speed up the confirmation process. First used by Democratic Leader Harry Reid in 2013, the “nuclear option” is a parliamentary procedure that overrides a standing rule of the Senate. In this case, it decreases the number of hours of debate from 30 to 10 for most nominees. By reducing the number of hours required for debate, Senator McConnell was able to make up for lost time and drastically increase the number of confirmations.
Six months into President Trump’s first term, Senator McConnell explained that at the current rate the Senate was confirming appointments, it would take more than 11 years to approve the remainder of the president’s nominees. In total, the Senate has confirmed two Supreme Court justices, 50 U.S. Courts of Appeals judges, 133 judges for U.S. District Courts, and two judges for the U.S. Court of International Trade. The fact that Leader McConnell has been able to confirm a record number of judges despite partisan roadblocks speaks to his incredible leadership and dedication to realizing the president’s vision.
The Senate’s ability to confirm the president’s nominees brings him one step closer to fixing the broken judicial system and will ultimately shape it to better serve the American people. Though Leader McConnell’s commitment to confirming presidential nominations has been met with a great deal of criticism from Democrats, many of the president’s picks have been met with bipartisan support, earning the stamp of approval from the senators from the nominees’ respective states. President Trump has stated one of his primary goals is to transform the courts so that the third branch of our government will better serve all Americans. Now that his nominees make up one-quarter of federal appeals court judges, it appears he is well on his way.
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