Why Democrats are in a dangerous position with midterm elections right around the corner

Why Democrats are in a dangerous position with midterm elections right around the corner
Sen. Charles Schumer in January 2016, Glenn Fawcett
Frontpage news and politics

A new analysis is outlining the list of items on the Democratic agenda and the dangerous timeline they are facing to get things accomplished.

The Washington Post's Theodoric Meyer and Leigh Ann Caldwell recently collaborated with Tobi Raji to detail the most critical issues Democrats need to address before time runs out. Those issues include Senate Democrats' confirmation of President Joe Biden's nominees for multiple positions including the nominees who are slated to be held significant judicial positions.

The writers noted: "There are nearly 120 judicial vacancies on the circuit and district courts; Biden has named nominees for 34 of them."

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Progressives who have expressed concern about the courts are also urging Democrats to act faster. Per The Post, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) said: "he wanted to see Senate Democrats take two steps to confirm as many judges as possible: scrap at least part of the Senate’s four-week August recess and suspend the 'blue slip' process through which home-state senators recommend judicial nominees."

“It’s not like not giving a Supreme Court nominee a hearing,” he said. “This doesn’t break the rules of the Senate. This is a rule that is simply in there and can be reversed.”

Then, there are the positions that Biden has yet to name nominees for at all.

"Seventeen judicial nominees are awaiting floor votes and three more awaiting discharge votes — the process by which the Senate can advance nominees if the Judiciary Committee deadlocks," the writers wrote.

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Christopher Kang, chief counsel for the progressive group Demand Justice, also expressed concern about the number of district court vacancies that still do not have nominees named.

However, a spokesperson for Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) offered an explanation for the vacancies. She explained that the Senate lawmakers "weren’t the reason that Biden hadn’t named nominees for most of those openings: 'There are only two vacancies for which the California Senators have not yet recommended nominees to the President, and each of those only became vacant earlier this year.'"

Despite the arguments from Feinstill and Padilla's representative, Kang argues that even two vacancies are too many considering the last nominee was announced several month ago. Kang and Demand Justice are also demanding answers from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) as they call for him to schedule more confirmation hearings to expedite the process.

While a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declined to comment, a representative for Durbin did speak it about the Senate’s return and what the Illinois lawmaker hopes to achieve.

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“When the Senate returns, Chair Durbin would like to see these pending nominees confirmed swiftly, and will continue to work with the Leader to find appropriate floor time,” Durbin's spokesperson said.

The writers went on to note that ambassadors are another area where Democratic lawmakers need to pick up the pace. "Biden has nominated more ambassadors — 121 — than Bush, Obama or Trump had at this point in their presidencies, according to the Partnership for Public Service. But the Senate confirmed only 72 of them, compared to 93 at this point in Bush’s first term and 73 at this point in Obama’s," they noted.

Valerie Smith Boyd, who serves as director of the Partnership for Public Service’s Center for President Transition, explained the challenges with Senate confirmation hearings and how they continue to erode with each administration.

“The Senate confirmation process is slower with each passing administration,” Smith explained. That, subsequently, “disincentivizes administrations from flooding the zone with nominees.”

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With such a wide agenda to fulfill in so little time, there are mounting concerns about how these delays will impact the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections. The writers noted that the White House is also pushing g Democrats to work faster.

They concluded, "The White House continues to press the Senate to confirm as many nominees as possible, according to a White House official. And Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged senators to move faster to confirm ambassadors, according to a State Department official."

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