Fearing a blue wave in the November midterm elections, Republicans are advancing a proposal to change the Senate’s rules in order to speed up confirmations of President Trump’s nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a member of the committee, said Democrats are “wasting the Senate’s time” by dragging out debate time even as lawmakers aren’t actively debating.
“At some point, the question is what is a constructive use of the Senate’s time,” he said ahead of the vote.
Because Republicans have a one-seat advantage on the committee, they were able to pass the proposal without any support from Democrats, The Hill reports.
Republicans say the change is necessary because Democrats are using the Senate’s rulebook to slow-walk Trump’s picks.
The resolution now goes to the full Senate. Republicans could pass the rules change with as few as 60 votes, but that would still require the support of at least nine Democrats.
Trump wants the GOP leadership to go “nuclear” to implement the rules change, a procedure that would let Republicans change the rules with only a simple majority and without the support of Democrats.
McConnell hasn’t publicly weighed in on the option, but he has not ruled it out. And Republicans would have little room for error if they wanted to play hardball.
With Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) absent, their majority is effectively limited to 50 votes. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has previously said she opposes further changes to the Senate’s rules.
Democrats have publicly fumed over the proposal, accusing Republicans of being overly partisan and casting a “sour note” on unrelated, ongoing negotiations.