On Thursday, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) warned that the GOP is fed up with the Democrats stalling President Trump’s nominations, and may use the “nuclear option” to burst through the Democrats stonewalling.
Lankford was asked by radio host Hugh Hewitt, “what is the status of your effort to get the confirmation mess resolved via an amicable change in the rules that is bipartisan?”
Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do is to say let’s have a consistent rule for how we’re going to handle nominations. We’ve got to do over a thousand nominations. If they continue to roll like they’re rolling at this point where Democrats just ask for 30 hours for every person, which they can do by the rules, if they continue to do that, it takes 11 years for the president just to get his staff. It was never designed to be something that would take this long. It was designed to be if there’s a problem nominee, you can ask for additional time to get additional time on it.
Now, they’re using it for almost every one of them. So I’m trying to work through the process. In 2013, Harry Reid was frustrated on what some Republicans were doing, actually a third of what Democrats are doing now. But he was frustrated with it, and he put a proposal, Democrats and Republicans both agreed on it. It was a way to be able to limit times to two hours, eight hours or 30 hours for nominees. I have brought that same thing up again, and said let’s just do that and make it permanent for here, for always. And if it was fair for Democrats in 2013, it should be fair for Republicans and Democrats from here on out. We had a hearing on it at the end of December, which went very well.
Now, we’re starting to be able to have the process of actually talking it through face to face. And my hope is that we can get this done in the next month. If we can’t, we’re in a logjam that we’re going to have to resolve through a nuclear option.
One possible strategy Lankford has suggested would be limiting the amount of debate time needed before they can take a final vote; last month the Senate Rules Committee held a hearing on Lankford's proposal. He suggested reducing post-cloture debate for non-Cabinet executive nominees from 30 hours to eight hours. For district court nominees, debate would be two hours.
In 2013, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a similar resolution. Later, Democrats terminated the 60-vote filibuster for lower-court and executive nominations, while the GOP echoed the procedure for Supreme Court nominees last year.