April 2, 2019

End Obstruction of Nominees


  • Senate Democrats’ unprecedented campaign of obstruction against President Trump’s nominees must end.
  • Many of the president’s nominees have been confirmed with overwhelming bipartisan support, which suggests Democrats are using the cloture process to waste time.
  • The proposed changes to post-cloture debate time would protect legitimate debate, trim unnecessary delays, and allow highly qualified men and women to serve the American people.

Democrats have been engaged in an unprecedented and systematic campaign to block the president of the United States from filling important jobs with qualified people.

Even before President Trump took office, Senate Democrats had decided to obstruct his administration at any cost. In his first Congress – from January 2017 to January 2019 – Democrats forced the Senate to conduct cloture votes on 128 nominees. The Senate held cloture votes on just 24 nominees during the first Congresses of the previous three presidents combined.

Cloture Votes on Nominees During 1st Congress


The nominees Democrats are trying to block are highly qualified and often enjoy broad bipartisan support. In the 115th Congress nearly half of them received 60 votes or more to move forward on their nomination.

  • Cloture invoked with 60 or more votes: 61 times (48 percent)
  • Cloture invoked with 70 or more votes: 42 times (33 percent)
  • Cloture invoked with 80 or more votes: 31 times (24 percent)
  • Cloture invoked with 90 or more votes: 22 times (17 percent)

Qualified Noms with Bipartisan Support

Wasting Time

Republicans have proposed a change to the Senate rules – S.Res. 50 – that would keep post-cloture debate time at 30 hours for nominations to the Supreme Court, circuit courts of appeal, cabinet-level offices, and certain boards and commissions. It would reduce debate time on lower-level officials to two hours. Post-cloture debate time would be divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans, allowing time to be yielded back by one or both sides.

Even with these changes, senators would still have more than enough time to consider nominees, as Democrats are not actually debating the candidates now. In essence, S.Res. 50 would cut debate time senators aren’t using. There has not been a single nominee this year about whom senators spoke for even four hours post-cloture. In most cases Democrats consumed less than one hour after cloture talking about the nominee.

Post-Cloture Debate Time on Nominees

Debate Time

Democrats are purposely slowing the work of the Senate. The time wasted means the Senate processes fewer nominees to fill important jobs. For example, the Senate has confirmed 53 of President Trump’s district court judges so far. At this pace, President Trump can expect to have 193 district judges confirmed over eight years in office. By comparison, the Senate confirmed 272 of President Obama’s district judges during his eight years in office.

Democrats Obstruct District Court Judges

District Court

Democrats demanded cloture on 20 of the 53 district court judges confirmed so far. When votes to confirm were finally tallied, the vast majority of these 20 judges were approved overwhelmingly.

  • 19 of the 20 got more than 68 votes
  • 17 of the 20 got more than 80 votes
  • 12 didn’t have a single vote in opposition

Democrats’ opposition to the proposed reduction in post-cloture debate time is clearly about obstructing President Trump. Senate Democrats had no objections during the 113th Congress, when they were in the majority and wrote a similar rule to accelerate consideration of President Obama’s nominees. That change, S.Res. 15, passed with bipartisan support in 2013, including the approval of 34 Democrats who are still in the Senate.

Last year when the proposed change in S.Res. 50 was discussed in the Rules Committee, Senator Klobuchar said, “I feel that this is not the right moment to make this permanent change.” She added later: “I do take on the suggestions of some of the members that if there is a way to make this bipartisan, to have it go out into the future somehow, I think that a number of us would like to work with you on that.”

Klobuchar Quote

Issue Tag: Senate