The Senate has before it some 50 nominees for various ambassadorships that still need floor confirmation votes. Senator Ted Cruz (R, TX) is holding them up by refusing to give unanimous consent to their confirmation unless and until he gets a floor vote on sanctioning constructors of the Russian Nordstream 2 pipeline. In response, Majority Chuck Schumer (D, NY) is…threatening.
Democrats are working to clear as much of the backlog as possible by consent. If we cannot make much progress, we may need to stay and hold votes on nominees this weekend and next week until we do[.]
That would really eat into Senators’ Christmas break. Oh, the angry sacrifice.
At 30 hours of debate per confirmation vote, though, those 50 nominations would require more than just a couple of weeks’ intrusion into playtime. Those 1,500 hours accumulate to a bit over two months to get all of them voted on, even were the Senate in session 24/7 for those two months.
Unanimous consent occasionally is an administrative convenience for getting minor matters done—post office and park namings, for instance—however, it’s far too often a mechanism for ducking being on the record on substantive issues. Nominee confirmation votes on controversial nominees, for instance.
Cruz is entirely correct to not give his unanimous consent, especially given his terms.
All Schumer has to do is allow a vote—a vote, mind you, not a guarantee of passage—on a Nordstream 2 sanction. The Progressive-Democrat Senators and the Progressive-Democrat Vice President would promptly vote down the sanction, and the nomination consents could proceed. Of course, this would put the Progressive-Democrat Senators on the record as opposing sanctioning Putin’s pet project, and that might not play well in Arizona, or Georgia, or Nevada, or….
Apart from any of that, this is just Schumer exercising his ego in trying to face down a Republican Senator.
It’s not all bad, though. If Schumer backs up his threat, at least the Senators would remain in session doing their jobs, which includes voting, explicitly on the record, on substantive matters so their constituents have material with which to evaluate them in the coming election.