Democratic leaders are expressing frustration after several of their colleagues are increasingly using tactics to block executive branch nominations, which they contend will have long-term repercussions if an overhaul of the process does not occur.
"Maybe we need another gang to come up with a set of rules changes; but the vast majority of us who understand these tools should be used sparingly, I think we need to raise our voices," said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., according to CNN.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., has promised to block the promotions of senior military officers until the Pentagon reverses its policy subsidizing abortions.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., chair of the Senate Energy Committee, has vowed to block any nominations to the Environmental Protection Agency as he spars with the Biden administration over energy policy. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, has threatened to oppose health nominees as he pushes the Biden administration to do more to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Also, Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, has promised to block any Department of Justice nominees until Attorney General Merrick Garland stops using his agency's resources to harass political opponents.
Although these tactics might not stop a nominee or promotion from being confirmed, it slows the process. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., must call for a cloture vote on each nominee, which requires 60 votes for the chamber to proceed. Senators argue it takes up valuable time that could be used for more pressing matters.
"If you don't like someone who has been nominated, then vote against them," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., according to CNN. "To hold up over things is not in the best interest of the national security of the country. We've got all these ambassadors, general officers. Now we are talking about holding all the nominees for the Department of Justice. If you don't want to be here and work on policy, then why did you come?"
Some frustrated lawmakers are arguing the Senate should consider overhauling the rules of nominations. According to the Article II Section 2 of the Constitution, the Senate has jurisdiction over confirming presidential nominees and appointments but does not specify the rules for confirmation.
"One person shouldn't be able to take an action like this," said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with Democrats. "We need to look at the Senate rules to think about whether we should say it has to be at least five people instead of one person."
CNN reported Democratic leaders aren't planning any immediate action, hoping GOP leadership will find a way to talk Tuberville out of his hold.
"We're trying everything we can think of; but most of all, we're appealing to other Republicans who we think are reasonable to come to their senses," said Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
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