Senate Republicans this week are poised to make good on a monthslong threat to change the rules in order to speed up confirming President Trump’s judicial nominees.
A vote to advance a measure could take place as early as Tuesday and comes after months of delay tactics employed by Senate Democrats eager to slow Trump’s effort to seat new federal judges.
The Senate rules change would slash debate time from 30 hours to two hours for district court judges as well as sub-Cabinet level executive branch nominees.
Republicans, who control the majority, plan to advance the rules change with 51 votes, a move that would block Democrats from filibustering the change in what many consider to be a “nuclear option” maneuver.
Democrats oppose the change, even though it mirrors a bipartisan deal approved temporarily under the Democratic majority in the 113th Congress.
Democrats say cutting debate time will limit their ability to carefully consider Trump administration nominees who deserve extra scrutiny.
But Republicans argue the minority is simply wasting floor time in order to slow down the seating of a Republican president’s nominees to the federal bench and key administration posts.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a recent hearing on the rules change, said Democrats have dragged out floor debates for nominees they do not oppose.
“It’s pretty obvious the sole purpose is to eat up floor time,” McConnell said.
Delay tactics by both parties have increased over the past few election cycles as each party has become increasingly intent on blocking the judicial nominees of an opposing president.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, said a permanent fix will put a stop to it.
“Both sides will continue to up the ante on how we deal with this issue until we stop ourselves from doing it,” he said recently.
A vote to advance the rules change hinges on another legislative fight. The Senate is slated to vote Monday afternoon on disaster aid funding for states and territories, but Democrats oppose the measure because they want additional money for Puerto Rico. If the bill stalls, the Senate will vote Tuesday on the rules change.