The Democrats in the Senate are going to try to delay and obstruct President-Elect Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office by filibustering his Cabinet picks.
“Senate Democrats are preparing to put Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks through a grinding confirmation process, weighing delay tactics that could eat up weeks of the Senate calendar and hamper his first 100 days,” Politico reported.
Here’s five reasons why that’s a stupid idea.
1. The 2018 Democratic senatorial map is brutal.
In two years, Democrats will have 25 seats to defend, with 10 of those senators hailing from states that Mr. Trump carried resoundingly. Many are in the Rust Belt (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Indiana) that are hungering for the change Mr. Trump promised. If they see their senators fight Mr. Trump at every charge — and deny them the jobs and the opportunity that he campaigned on — the people may place the blame on their senator and not the president.
2. If Mr. Trump is truly unstable, wouldn’t a stable Cabinet be a good thing?
For the last year, all you’ve heard from Democrats is that Mr. Trump is temperamentally unfit to serve as president. It would seem if Democrats truly believed in this argument, they’d want calmer influences in Mr. Trump’s purview and would want to confirm Cabinet choices like Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis — who has been universally praised — as quickly as possible.
3. Republicans confirmed Obama’s Cabinet quickly.
Yes, Republicans — who have the majority in the Senate — have ducked on the confirmation hearings for potential Supreme Court Justice Merrick Garland. However, when President Obama came into office in 2008, and the GOP was in the minority, they speedily approved his Cabinet picks. Within the first day, the Senate confirmed seven of Mr. Obama’s Cabinet selections, and by the end of the week, more than a dozen of Mr. Obama’s leadership choices were approved.
Hillary Clinton was the most contentious of the nominees for secretary of state. Her nomination had to go to a roll-call vote, where she got voted in 94-2 — meaning more than 40 Republicans voted to confirm her. It happened in about one week. Eric Holder, another controversial pick, got confirmed in one week by a 75-21 vote — another majority.
4. Delaying picks would deadlock the federal government.
I’m fine with the Senate filibustering policy or bills — go for it. But delaying Cabinet heads would be to shut down the federal government; no one can move within the agency until the leader is named. That would put hundreds of thousands of bureaucratic jobs in limbo, and abruptly halt the buses from running on time. The federal government still needs to collect taxes, provide health care for our nation’s veterans and continue diplomatic relations with foreign countries. It can’t become inoperable. Democrats, above all else, should recognize that.
5. The nuclear option.
Three years ago, Sen. Harry Reid decided to change the Senate rules to eviscerate the use of a filibuster to block presidential nominees. It was an ugly tactical move that he said, at the time: “This is not about Democrats versus Republicans. This is about making Washington work — regardless of who is in the White House or who controls the Senate.”
The Constitution gives the president the power to nominate top officials and the Senate the role of providing “advice and consent.” That has been understood to mean senators must vote to approve each nominee — and, in recent decades, it has meant a nominee must be able to survive a filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell surely wouldn’t want to use the nuclear option — but the precedent has been set. It’s much better just to get along and have the Senate do its job — which is to confirm the president’s Cabinet.