Senate

Senate confirms Trump’s solicitor general Noel Francisco

Senators on Tuesday approved Noel Francisco to be solicitor general, giving President Trump a new chief courtroom lawyer just ahead of a packed Supreme Court term. The Senate’s 50-47 vote split along party lines, with Democrats objecting to the skilled Mr. Francisco, whose biggest victory in private practice was defeating former President Barack Obama’s attempted power grab over presidential recess appointments. Now, Mr. Francisco finds himself in the position of defending Mr. Trump, who is fighting a long list of court battles over everything from immigration to environmental policy. “From amnesty cities to DACA to travel bans to transgender bans, the Trump Administration faces defining moments before the court. It needs a solicitor general at the helm that supports its policies and priorities,” said Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University. He said the confirmation will also bring needed relief to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been leading the Justice Department with “a truly skeleton staff.” Mr. Francisco will now be able to help shape courtroom strategy for the department. Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said Mr. Francisco will have his first test in three weeks when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the travel ban case Oct. 10, since Mr. Francisco previously worked with the Justice Department on it. “It’s a case he’s already familiar with,” she said. “I think it’s likely he’s actually arguing it.”

Lankford’s Proposed Senate Rule Change Could End Gridlock on Trump’s Judicial Picks

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) has a proposal to change to how the Senate confirms presidential nominees for federal judgeships and the executive branch. It would break the gridlock that has sparked a nationwide campaign to staff the bench and federal government. A record number of President Donald Trump’s nominations to fill top positions in the federal government—including key positions such as those in the State Department, Defense Department, Treasury Department, and Justice Department—are being slow-walked in the U.S. Senate, preventing the three million employees of the federal government from carrying out vital parts of the president’s agenda. Article II of the Constitution requires that all federal judges and high-ranking administration officials are nominated by the president, and then must be confirmed by the Senate. By mid-July in each of the four previous administrations (Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama), the average number of Senate-confirmed appointments was 190. For President Trump, that number was 50. “But the minority can force the full 30 hours of debate time provided within the rules, which they have repeatedly demanded,” Lankford explains in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. “At the current rate, it will take 11 years to fill the executive branch.” When cloture is invoked to stop a filibuster, Senate rules technically allow another 30 hours of debate before a final vote. Senators typically give back most of that time because the battle is lost. Instead of following that convention, Senate Democrats are using all 30 hours before allowing the Senate to vote and move on to the next item of business. Many commentators thought that this form of obstruction would end with the “nuclear option.” Democrats in 2013 reinterpreted the Senate’s filibuster rule (Rule XXII) not to apply to any presidential nominations to the executive or judicial branches, with the Supreme Court being the sole exception. Senate Republicans abolished that extension earlier this year, resulting in the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch. The situation is just as bad in the federal judiciary, where only a handful of 140 judicial vacancies have been filled with President Trump’s nominees. This has led to the Judicial Crisis Network launching a nationwide campaign with grassroots groups using the handle #GridlockReform, pushing senators to bring nominees to the Senate floor for an up or down vote. Lankford cites Judge David Nye as an example of this obstruction. President Barack Obama originally nominated Nye for a federal judgeship. Nye did not make it through the confirmation process before Obama left office, so President Trump re-nominated him as a gesture of bipartisanship to Senate Democrats. Every Senate Democrat finally joined all the Republicans to confirm Nye by a unanimous vote of 100-0, but only after consuming all 30 hours of debate. The solution? According to Lankford, “First, we should reduce floor debate time for executive nominees from 30 hours to eight or less. The Senate could debate and vote on five or more nominees a week, instead of just one or two.” Lankford notes that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed to this arrangement when he was majority leader. “It worked then, and it would work now,” he declares. “Second, we should lower the vote threshold on the ‘motion to proceed,’ which begins legislative debate and amendment consideration, from 60 votes to 51,” Lankford continued, explaining that almost every bill in the Senate requires two 60-vote approvals, one to begin debate and one to end it. Requiring only 51 votes to start debate would still protect minority-party rights by requiring 60 to move to an up-or-down vote, but move the process along. Such a change would also ensure that senators could no longer duck a tough issue by not letting it come up for debate. Coupled with Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) discretion to end the abuse of “blue slips” to filibuster nominees, such a change could lead to swift votes on judicial nominees, with the likely result that every one of President Trump’s picks would be confirmed. No word yet on whether Senate Republicans will use their votes as the majority to enact these changes.

These ideas are eminently reasonable.  And, the GOP won’t retain control of the Senate forever.   So, now is the time to enact such common sense changes to their cumbersome rules which prevent anything from getting done.  Kudos to Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) for starting this conversation.  Hopefully, when the Senate returns from it’s recess, they’ll make these changes their first order of business….so that they can get down to business and start approving these qualified Trump nominees.

Rand: ‘Nobody Would Have Survived’ Baseball Shooting Without Capitol Police, ‘It Would Have Been a Massacre Without Them’

On Wednesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “New Day,” Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) credited Capitol Police officers on the scene for preventing the shooting at a Congressional baseball practice from turning into a “massacre.” Rand said, “I can tell you, that I think with absolute certainty, nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill Police. They saved everybody’s life. Incredibly brave and deserve everyone’s praise, because, with this guy, who knows what his — how heavily armed he was, but nobody else had a weapon. So, he was just killing everyone — he would have. … They deserve our gratitude for saving — it would have been a massacre without them.”

Opinion/Analysis: Senate Must Shift Judicial Confirmations into High Gear

“The Senate needs to get to work,” says Federalist Society executive vice president Leonard Leo. He is visibly thrilled that the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court — and rather swiftly. Alas, Leo warns, if the Senate’s pace of judicial confirmations remains glacial, it will threaten President Donald J. Trump’s other appointments to the bench. “The president has about 131 vacancies to fill, with that number increasing every several weeks,” Leo explained at a recent reception for the Goldwater Institute’s American Freedom Network, an initiative to recruit and deploy attorneys to work pro bono for pro-freedom causes. “The Senate Judiciary Committee won’t do more than one or two appellate-court confirmation hearings every couple of weeks. At that rate, these vacancies might not be filled until after Trump’s term has ended.” On Trump’s watch, a grand total of two judicial nominees have been confirmed, including Gorsuch. The other is Amul Roger Thapar of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. If the Senate moves nominees like tectonic plates, this could affect designees as yet unnamed. “President Trump can’t nominate people only to see them hanging in the air for eight or nine months,” Leo says. “You can’t do that to people.” These vacancies have triggered alarms. Ballotpedia’s Federal Vacancy Warning System reports that eight different district courts are at least 40 percent empty. Two of the District of Delaware’s four federal judgeships are unfilled. Two of the Middle District of Alabama’s three positions are uninhabited. Silent courtrooms record the unheard sounds of untried cases. The official federal Judicial Conference has declared what it calls “judicial emergencies” in 49 courts, where filings have piled to the rafters. In one Arizona federal trial court, cases average 1,177 per judge. A single U.S. court of appeals seat in Atlanta is sinking beneath 1,151 criminal and civil actions. “Whether it’s empty federal district courtrooms or unfilled federal appellate-court seats, the failure of the president to timely nominate or the Senate to timely consider and confirm qualified nominees for those positions means that justice is delayed and often denied,” says Cato Institute vice president for legal affairs Roger Pilon. “While Washington delays, nothing less than the rule of law is ultimately at stake.” Washington’s delays often involve senators who impose “blue slips” on judicial nominees. Like a referee’s whistle, a blue slip stops an appointee cold. A senator might file a blue slip if a judicial candidate is from his state and he has not been consulted or if he harbors serious ethical questions about a contender. Previous Judiciary Committee chairmen have weighed blue slips differently. Leo recalls that Senator Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) treated blue slips like red lights. Nominees were stuck until senators withdrew their blue slips. However, “blue slips are not holy writ as a historical matter,” Leo says. They normally have enjoyed some deference, but not solely because a senator merely opposes a nominee’s philosophy. Such matters should be examined in hearings, debated on the Senate floor, and considered before a senator votes yea or nay. A blue slip typically has not been an endless timeout, with one senator objecting while judicial seats grow cold. Leo also noted that Judiciary chairman Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) need not chair all of these confirmation hearings if the necessary tempo discomfits him. Other GOP panel members could do so, which could accelerate things. Grassley might prefer to chair hearings for more-controversial designees while such senators as Utah’s Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, and Texas’s John Cornyn and Ted Cruz all could preside over meetings that scrutinize nominees with broad support. These vacancies are a big-league opening for President Trump. “Not since President Bill Clinton has a president had the opportunity to fill so many vacancies in the federal courts at the start of his first term,” Ballotpedia observed. “Trump’s 108 inherited vacancies represent roughly one in every eight life-term judicial positions (12.41 percent).” All the more reason for the Republican Senate to grow a sense of urgency on this issue, and many others. “People don’t realize, this is a melting ice cube,” says Manhattan attorney Mark W. Smith, a leader in Gotham’s Federalist Society chapter. GOP control of Congress and the White House is not a given. It’s a finite resource subject to the scorching sands of time and the bleaching effects of rapidly evaporating political courage. “The Senate needs to stop sitting around and get moving.”

Indeed..  The Senate needs to kick these confirmations of Trump’s nominees into high gear while they still have a slim majority; a majority they could lose in less than two years.  Then, Trump’s nominees would come to a grinding halt.  This excellent, eye-opening, analysis was written by Deroy Murdock.     🙂

Senate confirms Supreme Court pick Gorsuch

The Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court Friday morning, thrilling conservatives and angering liberals who expect him to be in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat he will take. The 54-45 vote was also a victory for President Trump, who last year had campaigned on his ability to pick good justices conservatives could rally behind. “This brilliant, honest, humble man is a judge’s judge and we will make a superb justice,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley said. Only three Democrats backed the judge, as did all 51 Republicans who were in the chamber voting. Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia Republican, who is recovering from surgery, missed the vote. Friday’s vote came a day after Democrats staged a filibuster to block the judge, offering a long — and occasionally conflicting — litany of complaints. After the filibuster Republicans used the “nuclear option” to alter the interpretation of Senate rules, lowering the level of votes needed to end a filibuster of high court nominees. The new change brings Supreme Court nominees in line with all other nominees, after Democrats used the nuclear option in 2013 to change the rules for those other picks. Mr. Grassley told reporters he thinks the next Supreme Court confirmation will be just as partisan if another seat were to open up during Mr. Trump’s presidency. Scalia’s seat has sat empty for more than a year, and became a major issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Indeed..   Such great news on this Friday!!  Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation is a HUGE victory for gun rights, and the rights of those of faith.  Judge Gorsuch will be sworn in Monday morning.  To read the rest of this story, click on the text above.   🙂

Sen. Tim Scott: Liberal Left Activists ‘Do not Want To Be Tolerant’

Liberal left activists are tolerant only of people who agree with them, Sen. Tim Scott said in a Senate speech as he recounted some of the hate mail he received while helping to elevate Sen. Jeff Sessions up to the new job of U.S. Attorney General. “The liberal left that speaks and desires for all of us to be tolerant, do not want to be tolerant of anyone that disagrees with where they are coming from,” Scott said Feb. 8 in a speech from the Senate floor. “So the definition of tolerance is not that all Americans experience a high level of tolerance, it is that all Americans who agree with [the left] experiences this so-called tolerance.” In his speech, Scott recounted some of the insults he’s been offered via Twitter as he spoke up in favor of Sessions, who was sworn into his new job on Feb. 9. “‘House negro’ … ‘a complete horror’ … ‘You are a disgrace to your race,’” he recounted, adding “I left out all the ones that use the n-word.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is a black, Republican, U.S. Senator from the great state of South Carolina.  If you’ve not seen the video of this speech on Senate floor, click on the text above and watch it.  Just fathom if this was a black DEMOCRAT U.S. Senator, or Congressman that received this kind of hate mail..  It’d be ALL over the news and we’d be hearing about it for months…and we ALL know it.  But, because Sen. Scott is a black REPUBLICAN, it’s ok for these self-righteous, liberals to call him all sorts of things, and use racist profanity….and for the dominantly liberal mainstream media to look the other way.  What a bunch of nauseating hypocrites!  Typical..

Former Montana Sen. Conrad Burns dead at 81

Former Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, a former cattle auctioneer whose folksy demeanor and political acumen earned him three terms and the bitter disdain of his opponents, died Thursday. He was 81. Burns died of natural causes at his home in Billings, Montana Republican Party Executive Director Jeff Essmann said. “He was a colorful figure who loved people, politics and to serve,” Essmann said. “He brought a common-man, common-sense approach to his work in the Senate and returned to his home in Billings when his work was done.” As a Republican senator, Burns used his influence on the powerful Appropriations committee to set the course on energy development and public lands management across the rural West. But he was ousted from office in 2006 under the specter of scandal after developing close ties to “super-lobbyist” Jack Abramoff, who was later jailed for conspiracy and fraud. No charges were ever filed against Burns, who dismissed criticism over the affairs as “old political hooey.” After working as a livestock auctioneer, Burns in 1975 moved into broadcast radio, founding four stations known as the Northern Ag Network. The network eventually grew to serve 31 radio and TV stations across Montana and Wyoming, offering agricultural news to rural areas. He sold the network in 1985 and — capitalizing on his name recognition — made his first foray into politics a year later, when he was elected commissioner for Yellowstone County in south-central Montana. Before his first term was completed, Burns took on incumbent U.S. Sen. John Melcher, a two-term Democrat described by Burns opponent as “a liberal who is soft on drugs, soft on defense and very high on social programs.” At the age of 53, he won election to the Senate by a 3-percentage-point margin. He rose to be one of the most influential positions in Washington with his seat on the Appropriations committee, serving as chairman of the Interior subcommittee. Burns became a strong advocate for increased domestic energy production and expanded development of natural resources.

Was sorry to hear this..  Former Sen. Burns (R-MT) was always a riot to listen to when interviewed.  He was a good ol’ boy, who was down to earth.  Yeah, his mouth got him into trouble from time to time.  But, his constituents in Montana loved him.  And, that’s really the bottom line.  He was for more domestic energy production…something we are strong advocates for here at The Daily Buzz..  Thanks for your service, Senator.  R.I.P.