May 13 2019
More Great Nominations to Come
The future of the courts was one of the most important issues of the 2016 presidential election. There was a good reason for that. Justice Scalia’s sudden death in February of that year reminded everyone of the high stakes in electing a president with the power to choose judges with lifetime appointments.
Candidate Donald Trump understood this. He took the welcome step of releasing a list of his potential nominees for the Supreme Court before any votes were cast. As President, he has followed through by nominating Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land, along with a slate of other well-qualified picks for lower courts.
The Senate is making good on the hopes of the American people and promises of President Trump, confirming its 100th judicial nominee at the end of April. This milestone shows that we have kept our word to voters.
More nominations are coming and, thanks to a recent Senate rules change, future candidates will face a streamlined confirmation process.
Overcoming Historic Obstruction
This accomplishment has come despite attempts to halt its progress. Nominees are thoroughly vetted by the White House and by the Senate. They meet with senators individually to discuss their views and qualifications well before they come up for votes in committees or on the floor. Members have many chances to voice their concerns, but the Senate only has so much time as a whole body to consider each candidate.
Democrats used a procedural rule calling for 30 hours of debate a record 128 times during President Trump’s first two years in office. By contrast, Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama faced this same hurdle only 24 times combined in their first two years. Most of the president’s nominees are not controversial, and many Democratic senators end up voting for them after they leave the procedural limbo.
The Commerce Committee, which I chair, has also been affected by these stalling tactics. Ronald Batory – a man with four decades of experience in the railroad industry and an excellent reputation – saw the rules abused to delay his nomination by more than 200 days. When Mr. Batory finally did come up for a vote, he was confirmed unanimously. The lengthy debate time was never used for debate, only delay. He should have been on the job and improving rail safety months before. This same maneuver slowed scores of other judicial and executive branch confirmations, kept the government from doing its job, and discouraged qualified Americans from entering public service.
The Senate is Doing its Part
The Republican-led Senate is ending this unacceptable obstruction by improving how our chamber operates. Now, two hours of debate time are provided for most nominations. We have already seen positive results, with additional well-qualified candidates taking offices every day, and most confirmations done with big majorities. Future nominees can get to work without going through what Mr. Batory experienced.
This is welcome news for our country. As Alexander Hamilton observed in Federalist No. 68, “The true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.”
We cannot have good government without producing a fully-staffed administration. President Trump’s upcoming nominees will be responsive to citizens’ needs once they take their posts, and a judiciary manned by these candidates will be qualified, fair-minded, impartial, and interpret the law according to its original meaning.