Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson’s withdrawal of bid to head the Department of Veterans Affairs triggered a fresh round of partisan squabbling over the sizeable and stagnating list of Trump nominees awaiting appointment. Since his ascendance to the presidency, Trump has faced a massive uphill battle to get his nominees confirmed. It’s taken the Trump administration an average of 85 days for appointees to be confirmed — twenty days longer on average than for Barack Obama and nearly double (45 days) the time needed for appointees of George W. Bush.
“We have hundreds of people in, waiting to be approved,” President Trump said at a Wednesday news conference. “The Democrats are taking 30 hours per person, they’re taking the maximum time.”
Both the president and conservative media outlets have cried afoul of this slowdown, citing obstructionism and hatchet-man politicking in an attempt to derail administrative aims.
Certainly, aspects of these allegations are legitimate. Specifically, the Senate approval process has continued to be a byzantine nightmare, even after the 2013 change amending the debate rules for nominations. While in past, 60 votes were required to end debate on nominations, only a simple majority is now needed. However, cloture still slows down the process.
Cloture, often filed by supporters of the nominee, is the opposite of a filibuster, forcing a vote on a proposed appointment. However, invoking cloture allows for 30 hours of debate time. It is undoubtedly a powerful tool for potential obstructionists, dragging single nominations out multiple days. With over 1,200 presidential nominees in need of Senate approval, it would take Trump approximately 9.4 years to on-board all his nominees if subjected to a cloture vote.