The Senate just did a month’s worth of work in a day

· August 29, 2018  
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Mitch McConnell
Aaron P. Bernstein | Getty Images

If you were busy tracking primary election results Tuesday night, you might have missed the huge set of confirmations that went through the Senate in the late afternoon and evening. The Senate packed up and left town after confirming a large, fast-tracked bundle of Trump nominees including 27 executive branch appointees and seven lower court judges.

This has turned into the latest cause for celebration for senators now heading back to their constituents at the end of a long, mostly canceled recess, the main objective of which was to address the gigantic backlog of Trump appointees.

Fun fact: Even with these confirmations, it’s still a very long list. But, bottom line: The senators basically managed to knock out what would normally take them a month in a single day.

Keep in mind that up until Tuesday, the Senate’s accomplishments for the canceled recess so far included a trickle of confirmations and a massive “minibus” spending bill that still funds Planned Parenthood.

The circumstances are extraordinary, of course. With the death of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., there was a greater push to wrap up for memorial events spanning from Arizona to Annapolis, Maryland, over the next few days. Before that, the chamber had to contend with the consequences of Jeff Flake’s big personal recess African election adventure, which gummed up the works considerably. And the Senate Judiciary hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh start next week.

Ergo, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., were able to strike a deal to fast-track some of the nominees. But is that what it really takes to get results?

The Senate takes a lot of flak for its notoriously short work weeks. And truly, the length wouldn’t bother folks nearly as much if they were able to use those two or three days per week as productively as they used just one in this case. The imagination buzzes at just where the GOP agenda might be right now if the upper chamber put in this same kind of hustle on a regular basis.

Instead, business as usual shows that, instead of functioning as “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” the Senate spends way too much of its time calling the roll and not nearly as much deliberating, as some of its members will attest.

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Author: Nate Madden

Nate Madden is CRTV’s congressional correspondent. Follow him @NateMaddenCRTV or send tips to [email protected].