Unhappy with the Senate Republicans’ decision this week to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” to streamline the confirmations of President Donald Trump’s appointees, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has gone on the offensive.
Schumer is now attacking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his Republican colleagues’ decision to speed up the confirmation process for executive and judicial appointments, calling the move “disgraceful” and lamenting that it was “a very sad day for the Senate.”
“The majority, by taking yet another step to erode that legacy, risks turning this body into a colosseum of zero-sum infighting, a place where the brute power of the majority ultimately rules,” Schumer said.
While Schumer calls this move “disgraceful,” the real disgrace is what caused Senate Republicans to make this decision in the first place: the Democrats’ obstruction of President Donald Trump’s nominations.
McConnell alluded to this on the Senate floor Wednesday, accusing Schumer of having “started this whole thing” by placing Trump nominees under unnecessary scrutiny.
“This is not a bad day for the Senate,” McConnell said. “This is a day we end this completely outrageous level of interference and obstruction with this administration.”
Nuclear Option invoked
The so-called “nuclear option” that was invoked on Wednesday allows a simple majority, rather than the standard two-thirds supermajority, to change the deliberation time following cloture votes on nominees.
If a majority votes to do so, the Senate will only debate non-cabinet and district court appointments for two hours, much less than the typical 30.
It is called the “nuclear option” out of fear for its consequences. Some believe that it could lead to a destructive structure by shifting power away from the minority party.
For this reason, not all Senate Republicans were happy with the decision.
“One reason they call this the nuclear option is once it’s set in motion, it can be difficult to control,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).
This is not the first time that it has been used, however.
Over the past couple of decades, the “nuclear option” has been invoked on numerous occasions, most recently in 2013 by the Democrats. And there is no reason to think that it can’t be safely used again.
The real reason that Schumer is unhappy, and pretending to really care about the health of the process, is because the nuclear option means that he and his party’s obstruction efforts just lost their effectiveness. What a shame.