Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) blasted Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Friday for thwarting more than two centuries of procedure in order to jam President Donald Trump’s nominees for Cabinet and judicial posts through Congress’s upper chamber.
First, some background:
On Wednesday, McConnell accused Senate Democrats of trying to block Trump’s will by adhering to the rule that requires 30 hours of floor debate per nominee. McConnell complained that the rules were unfairly punitive to Trump and his agenda.
McConnell then forced a vote to eliminate the 30-hour rule on two of Trump’s non-controversial nominees. A majority of 51-48 voted to suspend the rules, which set precedent for future proceedings. This rare move is what is known as the “nuclear option.”
“It is time for this sorry chapter to end,” McConnell said, minutes before the votes were cast. “This is the day we end this completely outrageous level of interference and obstruction with this administration.”
Bennet on Friday tore into McConnell for his flagrant hypocrisy, notably for his past statements on the importance of protecting the rights of the minority.
McConnell invoked the “nuclear option to once again break the Senate rules,” Bennet said in an address on the floor, marking the latest in a lineage of decisions that “degrade the Senate’s responsibility to advise and consent.”
Bennet reminded his colleagues that when Barack Obama was president, McConnell was “systematically denying [Obama] the right not only to put people in the Cabinet and in his administration but to put judges on the bench as well. It has been a concerted strategy of Senator McConnell for a decade and he has succeeded.”
Recall that McConnell denied Obama the opportunity to nominate Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court following the untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. McConnell argued that the seat should remain vacant until after the presidential election, which was won by Donald Trump.
An exasperated Bennet continued:
“There were 342 days left in his term! And I think when the history is written of this period in our political system, this is all gonna look like a tragic farce. All of it. And people are gonna know when they write an op-ed piece on April Fool’s and say one thing when they’ve spent the last 20 years doing something else, that’s not gonna be lost to the pages of history.”
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) calling out Mitch McConnell’s tenure of being a massive hypocrite is so perfectly on point. pic.twitter.com/lN2uzedvBx
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) April 5, 2019
That guy is outstanding.
— Jeremy (@jsmack710) April 5, 2019
— Monica Cates (@monicasloves) April 5, 2019
Thank you Mr Bennet from NJ
— Patricia Gandolfini (@pattigandolfini) April 5, 2019
I just love this man. I'd love for him to be our next president. @SenatorBennet
— Veronica Saunders (@SweetVeee66) April 5, 2019
With the new policy in place, only two hours of debate are mandated per nominee, which means the Senate and fill empty positions at breakneck speed. Not only has this tossed out Senate tradition, but it also flies in the face of McConnell’s complaints about the minority party being treated unfairly.