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Sen. J.D. Vance blockade

Senate conservatives expand their blockade of Biden nominees

News: A group of conservative Republicans is unveiling a new effort to jam up the Senate floor in protest of former President Donald Trump’s conviction in the New York hush-money trial.

Five of Trump’s closest Senate allies are slated to announce Thursday that they’ll block swift confirmation of nearly four dozen of President Joe Biden’s nominees to various positions throughout the federal government.

This represents a significant expansion of an existing pledge by Trump allies to stall Democratic-led initiatives — both legislation and nominations — on the Senate floor.

The new blockade will require Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to burn floor time on nominations that would typically be confirmed via unanimous consent. It includes nominees to serve on nonpartisan federal boards and commissions or represent the United States at international gatherings.

The impacted nominations also include U.S. attorneys, federal judges, and sub-Cabinet positions. Most of these, however, are already subject to GOP holds that force Schumer to use multiple days of floor time and hold roll-call votes.

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), a potential Trump running mate, is spearheading the effort. Four other GOP senators signed the pledge: Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Roger Marshall (Kan.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.).

The announcement comes as Trump is slated to huddle separately with House and Senate Republicans today. Trump is sure to rail against his recent conviction as well as the other indictments he’s facing and urge GOP lawmakers to do more to punish Biden and Democrats.

In a joint statement, the Vance-led group vowed to “defend against attempts to fast-track” around four dozen nominees. The senators are billing it as “a continuing response to the current administration’s persecution of President Donald Trump.”

The blockade, per the joint statement, will apply to individuals who “supported lawfare or censorship” of Trump, “suggested the Trump prosecutions were reasonable,” or endorsed Trump’s guilt — among other criteria.

Here are some examples of the nominations that will require floor time and roll-call votes for confirmation:

Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-Calif.) nomination to represent the United States at the U.N. General Assembly.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s nomination to represent the United States on the World Health Organization board.

Christopher Schroeder’s nomination to serve on the board of trustees for the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation.

Former Rep. Charlie Crist’s (D-Fla.) nomination to serve as U.S. representative to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Leslie Bluhm’s nomination to serve on the board of directors for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Jeffrey Gural’s nomination to serve as chair of the Public Buildings Reform Board.

You get the point. These nominees, while they have either direct or indirect connections to the Democratic Party, would usually be confirmed in no more than a few seconds on the Senate floor.

Vance’s group will maintain the blockade through the election. The impact is unclear, but Schumer is unlikely to use floor time on non-judicial nominations or key posts. Many of them could lag for several months as a result. In Lee’s case, the U.N. General Assembly takes place in September, so she may not be confirmed at all.

The senators’ hardball move resembles Tuberville’s months-long blockade of senior military promotions, which senators from both parties said damaged U.S. national security.

— Andrew Desiderio

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