Democrats Forgo Stall Tactics, Senate Confirms 65 Trump Nominees

Chuck Schumer / Getty Images
Chuck Schumer / Getty Images
August 3, 2017

The Senate confirmed 65 Trump administration nominees on Thursday afternoon, marking a significant change in Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D, N.Y.) previous efforts to stall the confirmation of several nominees.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky.) moved the nominations in a large package agreed to by a voice vote, indicating that no senators objected, the Washington Examiner reported.

The vote came on the final day before the August recess, a break that had already been delayed by McConnell in order to tackle the GOP's "unfinished agenda."

Schumer had been dragging out the confirmation process to protest Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. The procedural move employed by Schumer meant that Democrats could not filibuster, or infinitely block, nominees because procedural objections can be overcome with a simple majority vote instead of a supermajority of 60. However, Senate Democrats are able to extend the process "to an excruciating degree," the New York Times reported.

As a result of the procedural delays, 198 nominees were still working their way through the Senate as of Wednesday, according to the Hill.

In response to the efforts by Democrats to stall nominations, GOP senators had considered taking more dramatic steps. Sens. James Lankford (R, Okla.) and Ron Johnson (R, Wis.) proposed a plan on Wednesday to curb the amount of debate time required for most of the president's nominees after they clear an initial hurdle. That initial amount of time is currently capped at 30 hours.

Under Lankford's proposal, debate time would be limited to eight hours for non-Cabinet nominations. Johnson's measure would limit debate on the Senate floor to two hours.

Thursday's vote appears to have tabled any proposals to initiate procedural changes, at least for the time being.

Following the vote, McConnell commented on Twitter that more executive branch nominees were confirmed this week than were confirmed the entire year combined.

Among those confirmed were former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, who will be Trump's ambassador to NATO, and New York Jets owner Robert Wood Johnson, who will be ambassador to the United Kingdom.