Published on NPR
The Senate voted largely along party lines to change its debate rules — a move that will speed up the confirmation process for some lower-level judicial and agency nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., used a complex procedural maneuver, known as the nuclear option, to cut debate for lower-level nominees from 30 hours to two hours. The change does not apply to Cabinet-level nominees, federal appeals judges, members of some boards and commissions or the Supreme Court. It also does not change the 60-vote requirement to advance legislation.
All Senate Democrats opposed the move, and they were joined by two Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Mike Lee of Utah.
McConnell said the change is necessary to prevent obstruction from Democrats who have demanded lengthy debate on a number of nominees. He blamed Democrats for dragging their feet on a variety of noncontroversial candidates simply because they were nominated by President Trump.
“It is time for this sorry chapter to end,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “It is time to return this body to a more normal and reasonable process for fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities no matter which party controls the White House.”