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Dispatches from Outside the Bubble

Michael Ahrens - July 11, 2017

Senate Democrats’ strategy of resistance is exactly the kind of thing most voters hate about Washington. The vast majority of them want to see their senators work with the president – not just obstruct the administration from working on their behalf.

But instead, here’s some of what swing-state voters are reading about their Democrat senators…

The Detroit News: Trump’s Michigan judicial nominee hits a snag. The panel is waiting for the go-ahead from her home state senators, Democrats Debbie Stabenow of Lansing and Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township. … Neither Stabenow nor Peters has publicly raised concerns about Larsen’s selection for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals… The [American Bar Association] gave Larsen its top rating of “well qualified.”

South Bend Tribune: Notre Dame prof, an appeals court nominee, deserves support. What’s the holdup? Well, the Senate traditionally gives special consideration to the views of senators from a nominee’s home state before going forward with a judicial nomination. Indiana Sen. Todd Young strongly supports Amy’s nomination. Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly hasn’t yet made any public statements about Amy’s nomination. In other words, Donnelly is the holdup.

PoliticsPA: Blue Slips Become Issue in Senate. Senator Bob Casey is one of the Senators who has been withholding his blue slip on Stephanos Bibas, a law professor from the University of Pennsylvania, who was nominated to the Third Circuit. 

Minnesota’s Power Line: Here in Minnesota, we are seeing the blue slip in action. The New York Times reported, at the link above, that Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar may be trying to block the nomination of eminently qualified Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The [Port Huron] Times-Herald: Senators idle as U.S. court cases stack up. By most accounts, Larsen is an excellent judge and good choice. The American Bar Association gives her its top rating. Her former colleagues at the University of Michigan law school said she would be an “outstanding federal judge.” … Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have not turned in their blue slips, and probably will not. We can almost hear them explaining, “Well, they started it.” Well, it is time to stop blue slips. And time to start growing up.

Some quick stats:

  • No Senate Democrat has yet to return a “blue slip,”  which signals acceptance of federal judicial picks made by President Trump.
  • President Trump's nominees have faced the burdensome hurdle of a cloture vote 30 times so far, while President Obama only had 8 cloture motions in total on his nominees by the August recess. As The Wall Street Journal notes, “This means a two-day waiting period and then another 30 hours of debate. The 30-hour rule means Mr. Trump might not be able to fill all of those 400 positions in four years.”
  • Senate Democrats have allowed only 10% of President Trump’s confirmations to happen by voice vote, while more than 90% of President Obama’s were confirmed by voice vote at this point in 2009.
  • The average time it takes for the Senate to confirm a Trump nominee compared to past administrations is the highest in recent history, at 43 days.

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