Sen. John Thune
Although President Trump has been in office for more than 30 days now, many of his Cabinet nominees are still waiting for a simple up-or-down vote in the U.S. Senate. These delays have little to do with the nominees’ qualifications and everything to do with Senate Democrats’ failure to accept the results of the 2016 election.
To put this historic level of obstruction into perspective, the confirmation process for President Trump’s nominees is the slowest since George Washington was president – you know, when people had to travel by horse and buggy.
Since the 1950s, most (if not all) Cabinet nominees for incoming presidents had been confirmed by this point in their presidencies. From 1881 to 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt became president, every single Cabinet nominee was confirmed on the first day of a new administration. When Senate Republicans were in the minority and President Obama came into office, we didn’t stall the confirmation process. While we disagreed politically, we knew how important it was for the new government to get up and running as quickly as possible.
Despite this obstruction, the Senate has already made progress on our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare. Earlier this year, we passed an Obamacare repeal resolution that gives Congress the tools it needs to dismantle this failed law and replace it with reforms that drive down costs and increase access to quality care. After significant delays, the Senate approved Dr. Tom Price to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He will play an integral role in our effort to reform our health care system so it works more efficiently for the American people.
Our 2017 agenda also includes reforming our outdated tax code for the first time in 30 years. In today’s global economy, a simpler and fairer tax code would give U.S. businesses a more competitive edge. It would also help strengthen our economy – get us back to growth rates of 3 percent or higher. A strong, healthy economy leads to more good-paying jobs, which is exactly what we need.
Also this year, we’ll confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court. There’s no shortage of ways to describe Judge Gorsuch: mainstream, well-qualified, universally respected, just to name a few. By the time his nomination comes before the Senate, I hope cooler heads will have prevailed and Democrats will give him an up-or-down vote – the same courtesy Republicans gave to President Obama’s first-term Supreme Court nominees.
While I understand my colleagues’ disappointment with having lost the election (I’ve been in their shoes, too), this is what happens in a democracy. But there are no winners when progress is held hostage purely out of spite and anger. Whether or not Democrats change their approach and work with, rather than against Republicans – and I hope they will – I’m not going to let that get in the way of delivering for South Dakota.