Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks from the chamber as Republicans pushed legislation toward Senate approval to defund Planned Parenthood and the ACA, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 3, 2015.
Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP

McConnell decries ‘obstruction’ on judicial nominees, irony weeps


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke on the Senate floor yesterday afternoon about one of his favorite subjects: “obstruction in the judicial confirmation process.”

At issue are the proceedings on the Senate floor about four district court nominees, each of whom will almost certainly be confirmed, but not at the speed McConnell and his Republican allies would prefer.

“[W]hy will their four nominations consume a week of the Senate’s attention? Why do we need to file cloture on each, and then exhaust the full thirty hours of debate? Because Senate Democrats are choosing – for partisan reasons – to make these nominations take as long as possible.

“Their goal is to waste the Senate’s time and prevent the president from promptly filling judicial vacancies. 2017 was an historic year of partisan obstruction by our Democratic colleagues. Even for uncontroversial judges who went on to unanimous or near-unanimous confirmation votes, my colleagues across the aisle used every possible procedural roadblock to delay and drag their heels. Now 2018 is starting off the same way.”

The press statement from McConnell’s office specifically denounced “needless Democrat [sic] obstruction.”

For the Majority Leader, it’s not enough that Donald Trump’s judicial nominees be confirmed; he wants the 49-member Senate minority to help the narrow Republican majority move the process along expeditiously.

At this point, we could note that there’s practically nothing Democrats can do to block the GOP president’s judicial nominees, making complaints about “obstruction” hard to take seriously. Or we might also note that some of Trump’s picks have failed in the face of opposition from both parties, not just Dems.

But let’s put that aside and focus on the fact that Mitch McConnell appears to be competing for some kind of chutzpah award.

Yes, as a substantive matter, Democrats are slow-walking many of Trump’s nominees, tying up the Senate schedule. But in practical terms, this means the Dem minority is doing exactly what McConnell and his Republican brethren did during the Obama era, when Democrats ran the chamber for six years.

I keep waiting for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to tell the GOP leader, “From you, all right? I learned it by you.”

But more to the point, if we’re going to talk about “needless obstruction” of judicial nominees, can we also talk about the fact that Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat?

I’m sure the Majority Leader is annoyed that it’s taking two days to confirm a district court pick instead of one, but until Democrats impose an 11-month blockade against a compromise Supreme Court nominee, McConnell should probably keep his whining in check.