November 1, 2017
“Let’s change the Senate rules and go back to the process that Senator Schumer supported in 2013 and 2014. Today the schedule allows us to do one or two nominations in a typical week. If we go back to the 2014 standard, we could clear multiple nominations in a day.”
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor on how the Senate should speed up the nomination process by returning to the rules for debating nominees that the Senate used three years ago.
Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“This week, the Senate is moving through a series of votes to fill vacancies in the federal appeals courts.
“President Trump has nominated highly qualified, mainstream judges and legal scholars to do these jobs.
“Democrats have responded – once again – with delay and with obstruction.
“It is clear to me that we need to change the rules in the Senate that govern how we debate nominations in this body.
“All year, Democrats have been putting up roadblocks to nominations.
“They have forced the majority leader to file cloture, so that we can confirm nominees like these four judges.
“As of last Friday, Democrats have forced the Senate to file cloture 47 different times.
“Now there were only six cloture votes at this point for the previous four presidents.
“These are the kind of hoops the Democrats have been making the Senate jump through in an effort confirm President Trump’s nominees.
“This procedure has been set in place to allow for debate.
“Debate is a good thing in the Senate as long as debate is actually occurring.
“It’s a chance for Senators to stand up, say what they like or what they don’t like about a nominee.
“Now if no one wants to debate, we should just move things along and have the vote.
“There’s one Senate rule that allows for as much as 30 hours of debate time on presidential nominations after we’ve actually had the cloture vote.
“In reality, very little of that time actually has been being used for the debate.
“In the past, both sides would agree to waive the time requirements and to move on to other Senate business.
“What’s happening now is the Democrats are insisting on cloture votes and then they’re insisting we use hour after hour – even when there’s no one here – to debate the issue or the person in front of us.
“It’s time to end this pointless spectacle.
“The United States Senate used to be called the world’s greatest deliberative body.
“Democrats have turned it into the world’s most paralyzed deliberative body.
“We have more than 125 nominees for various jobs who’ve had hearings in committee, who have testified in committee, who committees have voted on, who have cleared through the entire committee vetting process, and are now waiting for a vote on the Senate floor.
“Most of these people have bipartisan support.
“They will be confirmed easily and eventually.
“They should be confirmed immediately.
“There should be no reason for Democrats’ stalling tactics except to once again slow down the pace of other progress in the Senate on legislative issues.
“Look at what happened with one judge last week.
“Scott Palk was nominated by President Trump to serve on a United States District Court.
“He had bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee.
“That was in June – more than four months ago.
“Apparently that’s not good enough for the Democrats.
“They’re only interested slowing down the work of the Senate.
“So we had a cloture vote on this nominee – every Republican and 27 Democrats voted for him.
“So he had bipartisan support.
“We still had to allow all of this wasted time for the debate.
“We couldn’t conduct any of the other business in the Senate during the time because the Democrats insisted that we use all the debate time.
“Now they could have very easily agreed to waive the rules as we do and go straight to a vote.
“The Democrats refused.
“So how much of that time – that 30 hours – did the Democrats actually spend on the floor debating this person’s qualifications to be a federal judge?
“None. Not one Democrat came to the floor of the United States Senate to talk about that judge.
“There were fewer than 20 minutes of total talk on the floor of the Senate actually talking about the judge.
“The Senate had to waste hours and hours when we could have finished debating in less than 20 minutes.
“Things take time in the Senate – we understand that.
“There is no excuse for Democrats abusing the process to make things take even longer.
“Democrats aren’t using the rules for debate, they’re not using the rules for deliberation, it is only for delay.
“It hasn’t always been this way, and there is no reason it should continue this way.
“The Senate had a different standard for nominations a few years ago, that was in the 113th Congress.
“In 2013 and 2014, the Senate allowed just two hours of debate after cloture was invoked on nominations for district court judges.
“That’s two hours actually more than the Democrats spent debating this judge’s nomination last week.
“The rules said that we have up to eight hours to debate executive branch nominations below the cabinet level.
“And then for cabinet secretaries, for judges on the Supreme Court or for circuit courts, it was the full 30 hours of debate.
“Thirty hours now is what we allow for every nomination today – and Democrats have shown that in most cases it is far too much time because even though we have to spend all of the time, they use very little of talking about the nominees.
“We need a fair debate on every nomination. The procedure from 2013 and 2014, is one that was fair.
“Now the way that the Democrats are wasting time today to keep us from doing our work is not fair.
“I believe it is time to return to the rules for debating nominees that the Senate used three years ago.
“A president’s nominations of qualified people to important jobs was never meant to be a tool for delay in the Senate—or to be an obstruction in the way Democrats have been using them.
“These rules that we used in 2013 and 2014 were the result of a compromise.
“Democrats controlled the Senate at the time; a Democrat, Barack Obama, was in the White House making the nominations.
“Republicans agreed to make these changes to the rules.
“It was part of a bipartisan group and I was part of that group. There were eight senators – they worked on this compromise. Four Republicans, four Democrats.
“Senator McCain and Senator Alexander were part of that group.
“Senator Schumer, who is now the Democrat leader, was part of this group.
“And there was overwhelming support for these changes on both sides of the aisle.
“It’s time to do it again.
“Let’s change the Senate rules and go back to the process that Senator Schumer supported in 2013 and 2014.
“Today the schedule allows us to do one or two nominations in a typical week.
“If we go back to the 2014 standard, we could clear multiple nominations in a day.
“The Republican Senate has been busy this year, and we’ve made progress on behalf of the American people.
“We have passed 15 resolutions rolling back destructive Obama-era regulations using the Congressional Review Act, signed into law by the president.
“We passed a budget that will help us give Americans a raise by cutting their taxes, giving us an opportunity to do the kind of tax relief, tax reform, tax reductions, tax cuts that the American people are looking for.
“We need to do more.
“It is time for Democrats to stop abusing the rules just to delay the process.
“It’s time to go back to the previous standard of debating nominations.
“It’s time to pick up the pace, and do the job the American people expect us to do.
“Now if Democrats have a different approach and don’t want to accept the standard of debate that was set in the previous Congress, then I believe it is time for us to force that change.
“If Democrats maintain their lockstep opposition to real progress on judicial vacancies and other nominees, we should give them the chance to vote on their continued obstruction.
“We can vote on these nominees in a straightforward and efficient way, or we vote to return to the precedent of the 113th Congress.
“That’s the choice. Either way, it is time to vote.”