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Legislative foot-dragging lost a few of its power in 2013 when Senate Democrats invoked the so-called nuclear alternative for most nominees, allowing them to be confirmed by way of a simple majority rather than requiring 60 votes, and Republicans expanded that procedure for Supreme court nominees a year ago.
But because Senate operates almost seen on unanimous consent, one senator can continue to threaten to significantly gum within the procedural works if her / his hold isn’t honored. Together with Republicans occupying only 51 seats, a GOP senator’s objection carries more weight.
In practice, a senator aiming to prevent a vote just has to announce – or quietly make it known – that she / he will likely not accept to fast-tracking a nominee, forcing leadership to burn multiple days to have inside the matter.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is objecting to a Agriculture Department nominee to push for changes to national ethanol policy. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), an opponent from the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in the home state, is blocking a nominee for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is blocking Justice Department nominees over marijuana policy. Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) barred a vote over the nominee for your No. 2 spot at the Office of Management and Budget over Hurricane Harvey relief funding.
Meanwhile, Military Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) has blocked several Defense Department nominees over inadequate specifics of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) soon lifted a hold he previously put on a Trump trade nominee to get focus issues within the state. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) previously stood when it comes to a Department of Homeland Security nominee to pressure the agency on immigration. Todd Young (R-Ind.) temporarily blocked scenario Department nominee to make action relevant to Saudi Arabia and Yemen. And Rand Paul (R-Ky.) put a wait a Justice Department nominee over his past operate on National Security Agency surveillance.
Even more Republicans may very well be anonymously blocking nominees.
Democrats have thrown up loads of roadblocks , not surprisingly, galvanizing opposition to countless Trump nominees. That week, pressure from lawmakers of all sides helped force the White House to withdraw the nomination of former Texas regulator Kathleen Hartnett White, who had expressed doubts about the human role in climatic change, to move its Council on Environmental Quality.
Trump’s ire on these delays concentrates on Democrats, a concept to which he keeps returning. “Dems consider forever to approve my people, including Ambassadors,” he tweeted at the beginning of January. “They aren’t but OBSTRUCTIONISTS! Want approvals.”
It’s challenging make broad conclusions about that’s behind these delays because senators can place them on nominees unconditionally , nor always have to disclose them, although the Senate has had some steps to feature transparency on the process. An image resolution passed this season requires senators to generate public their holds on nominees or legislation once they submit written objections to party leaders. During the 2011-12 session, 24 objections were published, but time fell to nine these session and rose to 34 inside the 2015-16 session, good Congressional Research Service.
In 2017, the main half the present congressional session, eight objections were published, 1 / 2 of which originated from Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, in accordance with a Politico look at the Congressional Record.
Those numbers usually are not comprehensive, CRS warns, noting that senators need not publish their plans should they tell leaders physically or older the product how they would block a vote over a nominee. Several other Republicans this past year announced holds that have been not as part of the Congressional Record.
Democrats occasionally involved in a number of the same intraparty tactics within the presidency of Obama. Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as an example, placed separate holds on Obama’s Food and Drug Administration nominee in January 2016 over his ties towards drug industry and handling on the opioid epidemic. Markey and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) blocked a vote on a Democratic Federal Communications Commission nominee in November 2016.
Still, it’s an “uncommon period” for intraparty delays, suggesting that some lawmakers believe they aren’t getting enough input into some of the agency selections, said Joshua Huder, a senior fellow for the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.
“Holds have definitely lost their partisan edge, certainly. They haven’t gone away,” Huder said.
But, he added, it’s “virtually impossible to determine which holds are because they have personal differences using a nominee when they’re holding something up for leverage on something diffrent.”
Last fall, delays in confirming Epa picks led Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) to mind a vote over a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominee, Democrat Rich Glick, which had the effects of snarling a large package of carefully negotiated Energy, Interior and FERC nominees. Inhofe eventually lifted his objections at the beginning of November, allowing the confirmation on the set of two FERC commissioners.
Cruz blocked a vote on Bill Northey for that senior Agriculture Department post last fall after some of his corn-state Republican peers made it through reflection on several EPA picks in committee as part of a feat to extract concessions on federal ethanol regulations. That prompted Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to go into detail the delay in confirmation as “pretty crippling, to be honest.” A spokesman for Cruz didn’t respond to acquire talk about what he’d should lift his hold.
Heller blocked a vote on Republican Nuclear Regulatory Commission nominee Annie Caputo last summer. His office declined to inquire into the status of his objections, though Caputo remains watching for Senate action.
Congressional veterans aren’t surprised at the tactics that lawmakers use to extract policy concessions or commitments from federal agencies.
“Elected officials will usually use whatever leverage can be obtained to achieve political goals they deem to get important,” former Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) told Politico in the email.
Robert Dillon, a former aide to Murkowski, said Republicans are “not monolithic” and senators will push for any interests with their states regardless if their positions on nominations are “at odds with leadership.”
Several senators said the hold process can be something for each and every lawmaker to navigate with their own and supported the authority to block nominations, even those which got their start in their very own party.
“Every senator has got the reason and prerogative to position holds regardless which party the president originates from,” Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) told Politico. “I respect – but may not always are in agreement with – where my fellow senators may find these problems.”