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ROGER WICKER: Democrats denying Trump opportunity to put team in place

Nine months into his term, President Trump has had only 39 percent of his nominees confirmed. President George H. W. Bush had 70 percent of his nominees confirmed by this time in his first year. President Bill Clinton had 76 percent, President George W. Bush had 53 percent and President Obama had 65 percent.

Such a grossly low statistic should be corrected, even if it means that the Senate stay in session during weekends and late into the evening. I have called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to adopt an aggressive schedule that would allow us to break this needless logjam of nominees. As we saw during the delay of the state work period in August, the Senate was able to confirm 76 of President Trump’s nominees in a matter of days. Only 56 nominees had been confirmed up until that point. The same focus that broke that logjam is needed now.

Particularly troubling is the fact that there are outstanding nominees ready to get to work for the American people. Instead, they have been waiting for months to receive Senate approval. Some could be helping to provide hurricane relief or fighting terrorism if confirmed. It is senseless for these confirmations to stall when the Democrats insist on procedural delays but do not object to the nominees’ qualifications. In the end, several of President Trump’s nominees have gone on to receive support from nearly every member of the Senate after needless foot-dragging.

Senate Democrats’ procedural tactic involves invoking dozens of hours of debate time, even though non-controversial nominees could be approved with a simple voice vote. This unnecessary delay is inconvenient for the Trump Administration and bad for the country, since vacancies in the executive branch hamper the President’s ability to advance his agenda. But the Democrats’ political games are also an affront to the will of the American people, who democratically elected President Trump to make these leadership picks and build an administration.

I believe the Senate should stay in session through the night, during weekends and through state work periods to give President Trump’s nominees the timely consideration they deserve. That is the least we can do in response to those who have chosen to distort Senate rules and who refuse to follow the example that the minority party has set for every previous administration.

Confirmation votes are one of the Senate’s most basic duties in our Constitution, which entrusts lawmakers to provide “advice and consent” on executive nominees. There are more than a thousand executive positions that need Senate approval, and there is too much work to do on behalf of the American people to let these important positions stay vacant. We need to be relentless in our efforts to ensure these positions are filled. In doing so, we can show the American people that the Senate will continue to function despite those who seek to perpetuate gridlock.