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Resolution would allow bulk Senate confirmation without UC

Currently a single senator can hold up the process

Senate Rules and Administration Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said her proposal would improve efficiency in the Senate.
Senate Rules and Administration Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said her proposal would improve efficiency in the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Rules and Administration Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar is proposing a change to expedite the process for confirming certain presidential nominees and reduce the backlog waiting for approval.

Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced the resolution last week that would allow the majority leader to call up to 10 nominees advanced out of the same committee to be considered at the same time for a vote, excluding certain positions like circuit court judges, Supreme Court justices and Cabinet secretaries. Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., and Angus King, I-Maine, are co-sponsors.

“The slowdown of the confirmation process that we’ve seen in the Senate under the last several administrations is preventing key officials from taking up their positions,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “This commonsense reform will help improve efficiency and make sure we’re able to fill positions that are vital to our national security, economic success, and more.”

Each Congress, the Senate considers about 2,000 civilian nominations for a variety of government positions, from federal judges, to executive department officials and appointees to independent agencies, regulatory boards and commissions, according to a February Congressional Research Service report. Military appointments and promotions make up the majority of nominations, though most are considered routinely “en bloc,” a process by which hundreds of nominations can be considered at a time, CRS said.

Considering full slates of nominees en bloc allows for speedy consideration, but it currently requires unanimous consent, which provides opportunity for a single senator to hold up the process, according to a Democratic Senate aide. The measure from Klobuchar would change the rules to allow a majority vote for confirmation without requiring unanimous consent.

President Joe Biden has picked 613 nominees to fill key roles in his administration since taking office, according to the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service and the Washington Post, which together track roughly 800 of the 1,200 government positions that require Senate confirmation. More than two years into his presidency, 515 of those have been confirmed, 93 are being considered by the Senate, five are awaiting formal nomination and 91 positions have no nominee, according to the tracker.

The proposal comes while some Biden nominees have foundered in the Senate, as Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., holds up those for the Pentagon by repeatedly blocking unanimous consent.

Tuberville has blocked hundreds of military nominations in protest of the Pentagon’s new abortion policy, which reimburses servicemembers who must travel to other states for reproductive health care.

Tuberville has drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for his tactics. 

“This farce is endangering our national security, putting the lives of men and women who have served our country for decades in real trouble, and it needs to end,” Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor earlier this month.

A Democratic aide said the measure was not aimed at resolving the Tuberville situation. If passed, Tuberville could still prevent en bloc confirmation of large numbers of nominees. But it would enable the Senate to confirm up to 10 nominations at a time, the aide said.

Caroline Coudriet contributed to this report.  

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