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Democrats Don't Practice What They Preach

- April 24, 2018

In The Past, Senate Democrats Said The President Deserves The Team Of Their Choice Confirmed, But They Have Continuously Blocked President Trump's Nominees


TOP TAKEAWAYS

  • Senate Democrats have engaged in a historic level of obstruction of President Trump's nominations for judicial and executive appointments.
  • The Democrat opposition to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been unprecedented, especially considering the fact that most previous Secretaries of State have breezed through the confirmation process with near unanimous votes, even including highly partisan nominees such Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
  • The average time taken to confirm a Trump nominee is 85 days, which is 20 days longer than any of the previous four presidents.
  • But, under the Obama administration, Senate Democrats routinely voiced the necessity for the swift confirmation of President Obama's nominees.
    • In 2013, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said "nobody," Democrat or Republican, does not think a president "deserves his or her picks for who should run the agencies."
    • Senator Tim Kaine once said, "I think we owe deference to a President for choices to executive positions."
    • In 2013, Senator Bernie Sanders said stalling President Obama's nominees was "obstructionism" and "anti-democratic."
    • During the Obama administration, Senator Claire McCaskill said it was a "common sense notion that a President of either party should have the ability to pick his own team."

DEMOCRATS ARE DEMONSTRATING AN UNPRECEDENTED LEVEL OF OBSTRUCTION IN OPPOSING MIKE POMPEO FOR SECRETARY OF STATE

Democrat Opposition To President Trump's Nominee For Secretary Of State Has Been Historic

The Washington Post: "It Has Been More Than 70 Years Since A Cabinet Nominee Had Such A Hard Time Making It Out Of The Senate While Still Being Confirmed." (Amber Phillips, "Why Mike Pompeo's Senate confirmation is historic - and not in a good way for Trump," The Washington Post , 4/23/18)

CNN's John King And Manu Raju Highlighted How Surprising It Was To See So Many Democrats Oppose Pompeo, Saying It Is About Fighting "Trump Tooth And Nail." CNN's JOHN KING: "Look at this list of Secretary of State nominees here. Rex Tillerson, 56- 43, but then John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, James Baker, George Schultz, back to Alexander Haig. Things were political in the Reagan administration and in the Bush administration, and in the Clinton administration, even the Obama administration. But especially for Secretary of State, usually it was, 'ok, the president deserves his team.' This is mostly about Trump, if not all about Trump." CNN's MANU RAJU: "It is. A democratic member who is not from a red state, not up for reelection, you're listening very closely to what your base is saying, and they want to resist. They want to fight Trump at all costs. It doesn't matter if there is someone who, Mike Pompeo, both sides agree is qualified for this position even if they disagree with his ideological point of view, but very clearly, most of the Senate democratic caucus, is a very progressive caucus, very liberal caucus, want to fight Trump tooth and nail. …" KING: "Traditionally, the argument is the president deserves his team even if I disagree with the president's views or with the ideology of the person in place. For Pompeo, that's why it is surprising to see so many no's. If you look at, he was top of his class at Harvard, he was top of his class at West Point. He did serve in the House of Representatives. Most Democrats give him pretty high marks, not only for the job he is doing as CIA Director, but for his openness for them when they have questions." (CNN's "Inside Politics," 4/23/18)

CNN Highlights Democrats' Historic Obstruction Of Mike Pompeo

Secretary Of State Nominees Are Typically Confirmed By A Wide Margin, With Even Hillary Clinton And John Kerry Receiving Over 90 Votes For Their Confirmations

Then-Senator John Kerry (D-MA) Was Confirmed Secretary Of State By The Senate By A Vote Of 94-3. (Clinton Nomination, Roll Call Vote PN 113 : Approved 94-3-1: R-42-3; D-52-0-1, 01/29/13)

Then-Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) Was Confirmed Secretary Of State By The Senate By A Vote Of 94-2. (Clinton Nomination, Roll Call Vote PN 111 : Approved 94-2-2: R-39-2; D-57-0-2, 01/21/09)

Then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice Was Confirmed Secretary Of State By The Senate By A Vote Of 85-13. (Rice Nomination, Roll Call Vote PN 8 : Approved 85-13-2: R-53-0-2; D-44-31; I-0-1, 01/26/05)

Then-General Colin Powell Was Confirmed Secretary Of State By Unanimous Voice Vote. (Powell Nomination, Voice Vote: Approved By Voice Vote, 01/20/01)

DEMOCRATS USED TO BELIEVE PRESIDENTS DESERVE CONFIRMATION OF THE NOMINEES OF THEIR CHOICE

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Once Said "Nobody," Democrat Or Republican, Does Not Think A President "Deserves His Or Her Picks For Who Should Run The Agencies"

In 2013, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Said "Nobody" Democrat Or Republican Does Not Think A President "Deserves His Or Her Picks For Who Should Run The Agencies." SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: "Who in America doesn't think a president, Democrat or Republican, deserves his or her picks for who should run the agencies? Nobody." (Sen. Schumer, Remarks At A Press Conference , Washington D.C., 11/21/2013)

Thank You Chuck: Schumer Says That POTUS Deserves To Have His Picks To Run Exec Agencies

Senator Claire McCaskill Once Said The President Should "Have The Ability To Pick His Own Team"

In 2013, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Said It Was A "Common Sense Notion That A President Of Either Party Should Have The Ability To Pick His Own Team." "Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., observed that the change had no bearing on legislation or Supreme Court picks and that it derived from Senate rules, not the Constitution. 'It's a common sense notion that a president of either party should have the ability to pick his own team and to carry out his constitutional duty to elect federal judges.'" (Bill Lambrecht, "Senate Limits Filibusters On Nominees, Boosting Millet," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/22/13)

McCaskill Said "As Long As The Nominees Are Qualified, They Should Be Able To Be Confirmed With The Support Of A Majority Of Senators." "'As long as those nominees are qualified, they should be able to be confirmed with the support of a majority of senators,' she said in a statement." (Bill Lambrecht, "Senate Limits Filibusters On Nominees, Boosting Millet," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/22/13)

In 2013, McCaskill Inferred That President Obama Was Elected By The People, And Therefore, His Nominations Should Be Respected. SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL: "This is a president who was just reelected by the American people. As much as some people in this room don't like it, he was elected President of the United States by the American people. He has selected an honorable veteran, a Republican, who has served our country in various capacities, including this body. He's got a resume that qualifies him. He's got a character that until today, I assumed was not questioned on either side of the aisle." (Sen. Claire McCaskill, Remarks At Defense Secretary Confirmation Vote , 2/12/13)

(Click To Watch 01:36:10 - 01:36:44)

Senator Patrick Leahy Once Said "I Believe Nominees Deserve A Full And Fair Process Before The Senate"

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Said "I Believe Nominees Deserve A Full And Fair Process Before The Senate." "'Senator Sessions and I have had significant disagreements over the years, particularly on civil rights, voting rights, immigration and criminal justice issues. But unlike Republicans' practice of unprecedented obstruction of President Obama's nominees, I believe nominees deserve a full and fair process before the Senate,' Leahy said in a statement." (Karoun Demirjian, "President Trump's Cabinet Picks Are Likely To Be Easily Confirmed. That's Because Of Senate Democrats." The Washington Post , 11/18/16)

Leahy Said "This Has Reached The Point Where Judges Are Being Voted On For Political Reasons, Not Qualifications. You Do That And You Are Going To Destroy The Credibility Of The Federal Courts." "'I have seen more filibusters in a year than I have seen in 35 years. I think we are at the point where there will have to be a rules change,' said Senator Patrick Leahy, Democratic Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. 'This has reached the point where judges are being voted on for political reasons, not qualifications. You do that and you are going to destroy the credibility of the federal courts.'" (Dan Roberts, "Republicans Block Nina Pillard's Nomination For Federal Appeals Court," The Guardian , 11/12/13)

Leahy Said He Would Like President Obama's Nominees To Be Confirmed Like "Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom," So The "American People Get A Package As A Whole." SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: "Because there is so much work that goes into preparing these hearings -- you've got to have all of the background; you've got to do all of this stuff, prepare the questions; you want people to have the time -- I think, for the good of the American people, it would be very, very helpful if we could have a number of the key people in there, too. As I said, we had to get rid of virtually everybody at the top of the Justice Department. Those who are in there now -- we've got a lot of good people to replace them, but they're basically in a caretaker mode. Let's see who's -- let's see if we can get a number of the key DOJ people who have to be nominated. I would like, if it can be worked -- and I don't know if it can -- but if it could be, my idea would be to go boom, boom, boom, boom, boom with them, and so the American people get a package as a whole. And I'd like to do all that, of course, before the inauguration." (C-SPAN's " Live ," 12/1/08)

Click To Watch (19:05 - 20:01)

Senator Tim Kaine Once Said, "I Think We Owe Deference To A President For Choices To Executive Positions"

In 2013, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) Said "I Think We Owe Deference To A President For Choices To Executive Positions." SEN. TIM KAINE: "I think we owe deference to a president for choices to executive positions, and I think that that is a very important thing to grapple with." (Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Vote On Chuck Hagel , 2/12/13)

  • Kaine: "The American Public Choose Someone To Be President, They're Giving A Person A Mandate To Govern And That Includes Assembly Of The Team That The President Feels Is The Appropriate Team." (Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Vote On Chuck Hagel , 2/12/13)

Senator Elizabeth Warren Once Said Preventing Votes On Judges, Agency Heads, And Administration Secretaries Was "Wrong" And "Nothing More Than Obstruction"

In 2013, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Criticized Republicans For Blocking President Obama's Nominees, Saying It Was "Naked Attempts To Nullify The Results Of The Last Election." "'So far they have shut down the government, they have filibustered people [President Obama] has nominated to fill out his administration and they are now filibustering judges to block him from filling any of the vacancies with highly qualified people: We need to call out these filibusters for what they are: Naked attempts to nullify the results of the last election,' Warren said." (Burgess Everett, "Warren Calls For Filibuster Changes," Politico , 11/13/13)

Warren Said Preventing Votes On Judges, Agency Heads, And Administration Secretaries Was "Wrong" And "Nothing More Than Obstruction." SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: "But in the past three months, abuse has been piled on abuse. Republicans have prevented votes on judges, on agency heads, and on administration secretaries. This is wrong. Republicans can vote 'no' on any nominee they choose, but blocking a vote is nothing more than obstructionism. Blocking the business of government, the business of protecting people from cheating credit card companies or from mercury in the water or from unfair labor practices, this must stop. The president has done his job. Gina McCarthy has done her job. Now it is time for the Senate to do its job." (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Remarks On The Senate Floor , Washington, D.C., 5/15/13)

Click To Watch (06:46:24 - 06:47:14)

Senator Bernie Sanders Once Said Blocking President Obama's Nominees Was "Obstructionism" And "Anti-Democratic"

In 2013, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Issued A Statement Criticizing Republicans For Blocking President Obama's Nominees Saying "The Country Deserves A Senate That Is Not Dysfunctional And Unable To Address The Needs Of The American People." "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement after the Senate decided to make it harder for the minority to block confirmation of the president's nominees for judges and other top posts. 'Most Americans grew up believing that in America the majority rules. They also believe that this country deserves a Senate that is not dysfunctional and unable to address the needs of the American people.'" (Press Release, "Sanders Statement On Majority Rule In The Senate, Sen. Bernie Sanders , 11/21/13)

Sanders Added That "The Republican Minority Has Engaged In An Unprecedented Level Of Obstructionism" And That Allowing The Majority Rule On Votes For Confirmations Was "A Step In The Right Direction Toward Ending Dysfunction In The Senate." "'Unfortunately, in recent years the Republican minority has engaged in an unprecedented level of obstructionism. They have used the filibuster hundreds of times to delay or block the president's nominees and to stop legislation from even being considered. Today's decision by the Senate to let the majority rule on votes to confirm judges, cabinet secretaries and other senior administration officials is a step in the right direction toward ending dysfunction in the Senate.'" (Press Release, "Sanders Statement On Majority Rule In The Senate, Sen. Bernie Sanders , 11/21/13)

Sanders Said Blocking Obama's Nominees Was "Obstructionism" And "Anti-Democratic." SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: "It is the minority that is ruling right here in the United States Senate, and this type of obstructionism is enormously anti-democratic. Sometimes you win in politics and sometimes you lose. That's what happened when Obama won the election and we happened to win our Senate election." (Sen. Bernie Sanders, Remarks At Environmental Protection Agency Conformation Hearing , Washington, D.C., 5/9/13)

(Click To Watch 16:48 - 17:05)

Senator Dianne Feinstein Once Criticized Republicans For Blocking President Obama's Picks Simply Because "They Don't Like The President"

In 2013, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Claimed Republicans Were Blocking Obama's Picks Simply Because They Do Not Like The President Who Is Picking The Judges, Adding That "The Judiciary Is Too Important To Play Partisan Games With." "That has prompted Democrats to accuse Republicans of trying to change the rules simply because they do not like the president who is picking judges. 'The judiciary is too important to play partisan games with,' said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. 'And that's exactly what's going on here.'" (Jeremy W. Peters, "G.O.P. Filibuster Of 2 Obama Picks Sets Up Fight," The New York Times , 10/21/13)

Feinstein Expressed Further Frustrations With Republicans Blocking Obama's Nominees By Saying, "I've Sat On The Judiciary (Committee) For 20 Years And It Has Never, Ever Been Like This." "'I've sat on the Judiciary (Committee) for 20 years and it has never, ever been like this. You reach a point where your frustration just overwhelms and things have to change,' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who had previously opposed efforts to change filibuster rules but voted with Reid on Thursday. 'I think the level of frustration on the Democratic side has just reached the point where it's worth the risk.'" (Susan Davis and Richard Wolf, "U.S. Senate Goes 'Nuclear,' Changes Filibuster Rules," USA Today , 11/21/13)

Senator Tom Carper Once Said That Presidents Need "The Team That They Want To Put In Place"

In 2013, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) Voiced Concerns Over The Number Of Vacancies Within The Administration, Adding That The President Needs "The Team That They Want To Put In Place." SEN. TOM CARPER (D-DE): "I support the president's nomination of Chuck Hagel to be our Secretary of Defense, and I just want to take just a couple of minutes to explain why. For folks that might be watching this from afar, this body used to operate very differently than what it does today. The president would nominate people to serve in his cabinet, to really serve as judges, and there would be hearings, there would be debates. Sometimes people would disagree, certainly for cabinet appointments and some cabinet-level appointments, but for the most part, the president got the team he or someday she asked for. That's the way we did it as governors across the country. The way we still do it as governors across the country. The idea that four years into this administration we are still playing a game of executive branch Swiss cheese where you have too many relatively high-level positions, confirmable positions that are still vacant is not good, whether it happens to be a Democratic administration or a Republican administration. The president, regardless of what party they are from, I think need, for the most part, the team that they want to put in place." (Sen. Tom Carper, Remarks On The Senate Floor , Washington, D.C., 2/26/13)

Senator Dick Durbin Once Called The Blocking Of Nominees An "Injustice"

In 2013, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) Called The Blocking Of One Of Obama's Nominees An "Injustice," Arguing That "It's Not Fair To These Nominees." "Senator Richard J. Durbin, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat, warned Republicans that they were pushing the Senate dangerously close to a tipping point. 'There reaches a point where we can't allow this type of injustice to occur,' he said, all but threatening that Democrats would be forced to change the rules. 'It's not fair to these nominees,' he added, 'to be given the back of the hand by a Republican filibuster on the floor of the United States Senate.'" (Jeremy W. Peters, "Republicans Again Reject Obama Pick For Judiciary," The New York Times , 11/12/13)

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP AT THE TIME CRITICIZED THE BLOCKING OF NOMINEES AS A "PATTERN OF OBSTRUCTIONISM"

When President Barack Obama's Nominees Were Blocked He Cited Republicans' "Pattern Of Obstruction" As The Cause

President Barack Obama Said Republicans "Pattern Of Obstruction" Against His Nominees Was Not "Normal" And "Not What Our Founders Envisioned." "After the vote, Obama told reporters at the White House that Republicans had turned nomination fights into a 'reckless and relentless tool' to grind the gears of government to a halt and noted that 'neither party has been blameless for these tactics.' However, he said, 'today's pattern of obstruction . . . just isn't normal; it's not what our founders envisioned.'" (Paul Kane, "Reid, Democrats Trigger 'Nuclear' Option; Eliminate Most Filibusters On Nominees," The Washington Post , 11/21/13)

President Obama Said, "This Isn't Obstruction On Substance, On Qualifications. It's Just To Gum Up The Works." "Speaking at the White House, Obama praised the Senate action, accusing Republicans of attempting to block his nominees based on politics alone, not on the merits of the nominee. 'This isn't obstruction on substance, on qualifications. It's just to gum up the works,' he said." (Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim, "Senate Goes For 'Nuclear Option,'" Politico , 11/21/13)

President Obama Claimed That The American People Were "Frustrated" Because "We've Seen An Unprecedented Pattern Of Obstruction In Congress That's Prevented Too Much Of The American People's Business From Getting Done." "'It's no secret that the American people have probably never been more frustrated with Washington, and one of the reasons why that is, is that over the past five years, we've seen an unprecedented pattern of obstruction in Congress that's prevented too much of the American people's business from getting done,' Obama said." (Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim, "Senate Goes For 'Nuclear Option,'" Politico , 11/21/13)

Former Vice President Joe Biden Called For "Common Sense" Action On Confirmations

Former Vice President Joe Biden Advocated For "Some Common Sense On Confirmations." "Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a longtime member of the Senate and a fierce protector of its arcane institutions, said he believed the rejection of the two nominees was grounds to re-examine the filibuster rules, which some senior Senate Democrats have advocated. 'I think it's time for some common sense on confirmations,' said Mr. Biden, who was in the Capitol to swear in Cory Booker, a Democrat, as New Jersey's newest senator. He called the loss a 'gigantic disappointment.'" (Jeremy W. Peters, "G.O.P. Filibuster Of 2 Obama Picks Sets Up Fight," The New York Times , 10/21/13)

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Said It Is Not Fair To "Deny The President His Team"

Then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Said It Was Not Fair For The Senate To "Deny The President His Team." "These nominees deserve at least an up-or-down vote-yes or no-but Republican filibusters deny them a fair vote-any vote-and deny the President his team." (Sen. Harry Reid, Congressional Record , 11/21/13, p.S8414)

In Response To Blocked Appointments, Reid Said "This Is Not About Democrats Versus Republicans. This Is About Making Washington Work, Regardless Of Who Is In The White House." "'It's time to get the Senate working again,' Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor. 'Not for the good of the Democratic majority, but for the good of the United States of America.' He was poised to invoke the so-called nuclear option, effectively eliminating the minority party's ability to filibuster judicial and executive nominees. Republicans have in recent weeks blocked three appointments to a key federal appeals court, prompting Reid to call a vote to change long-standing Senate rules on the filibuster. 'This is not about Democrats versus Republicans,' Reid said. 'This is about making Washington work, regardless of who is in the White House.'" (Jeff Zeleny and Arlette Saenz, "Senate Goes 'Nuclear,' Changes Nominee Filibuster Rules," ABC News, 11/21/13)

BUT, DEMOCRATS HAVE REPEATEDLY BLOCKED PRESIDENT TRUMP'S NOMINEES

President Trump's Appointments At All Levels Of Government Have Seen Their Nominations Stalled By Senate Democrats' Petty Partisan Tactics And Obstruction

President Trump's Nominees For Posts At All Levels Of Government Have Been Stalled In The Senate. "For months, scores of President Trump's nominees for posts from ambassadorships to deputies at cabinet-level agencies have been stalled, awaiting confirmation hearings." (Maggie Haberman, "Opposing Factions Join To Push Confirmation Of A Gay Trump Appointee," The New York Times , 3/25/18)

As Of April 19, 205 Of President Trump's Nominees Had Yet To Be Confirmed. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)

As Of April 19, The Average Time Taken To Confirm President Trump's Nominees Was 85 Days. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)

  • The Average Time Taken To Confirm President Obama's Nominees Was 65 Days. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)
  • The Average Time Taken To Confirm President George W. Bush's Nominees Was 44 Days. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)
  • The Average Time Taken To Confirm President Clinton's Nominees Was 51 Days. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)
  • The Average Time Taken To Confirm President George H.W. Bush's Nominees Was 53 Days. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)

As Of April 19, Only 395 Of President Trump's Nominees Sent To The Senate Had Been Confirmed. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)

  • President Obama Had 548 Of His Nominees Confirmed At The Same Point In His Term. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)
  • President George W. Bush Had 628 Of His Nominees Confirmed At The Same Point In His Term. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)
  • President Clinton Had 632 Of His Nominees Confirmed At The Same Point In His Term. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)
  • President George H.W. Bush Had 520 Of His Nominees Confirmed At The Same Point In His Term. ("Tracking How Many Key Positions Trump Has Filled So Far," The Washington Post , Accessed 4/23/18)

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