Sen. John McCain has an explanation for Obama administration appointees whose confirmation votes are languishing in the GOP-led Senate: It’s payback for Democrats using the so-called nuclear option to push through scores of nominations in the previous Congress.
“I told ’em: ‘You jam them through, it’s going to be a long time before I approve of them,’” McCain said, recounting what he told Democrats after they changed the rules in 2013 and confirmed dozens of lifetime judicial appointments and several high-profile Cabinet nominees. “It’s affected me as chairman of the Armed Services Committee.”
McCain did help shepherd Defense Secretary Ash Carter through confirmation — the only Cabinet nominee approved by the GOP Senate. Since then, the Arizona Republican has refused to move 10 civilian nominations that have landed in his committee.
And none of them are going anywhere, either. It's just petty revenge now, that's all he lives for.
McCain is far from the only one, however.
There are 18 nominations waiting for a vote on the Senate floor — including Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general — and more than 130 idling in committees. So far, though, only McCain has admitted to deliberately stymieing President Barack Obama’s picks. But even as the GOP Senate Judiciary Committee moves at a pace similar to that of last year’s Democratic Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has done little to bring up nominations for a vote by the full Senate.
That has Democrats accusing Republicans of slow-walking the nominations amid lingering anger over the nuclear option.
“It’s appalling,” groused Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat. “I mean, how many times are they just going to throw logs on the process of government? I mean, even district court judges, for lord’s sake.”
The pace of action on confirmations stands in contrast to legislative action, where Republicans have considered more than 100 amendments this year and passed a budget, and are hoping to soon push through major trade and foreign policy bills.
And voters won't punish the GOP at all. They haven't in the past. Why would they now? Even if a Democrat wins the White House, at best the Dems will have a small Senate majority, and the GOP will still have a huge House majority. In 2018, the Dems will have to defend the Senate again, and unless the GOP makes the same mistakes as they did in 2012, they'll get the Senate back too.
But all this? Of course it's mean ol' Obama's fault.