Alexander: Senate Can Avoid “Accidental War”

Posted on April 26, 2018


“If there ever was a time when our country needed a consensus building institution, it is right now. We're fractured. We're an Internet democracy. We have partisan impulses coming out our ears… What we don't have is an ability to work across party lines.

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2018 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) urged his colleagues to support a resolution to speed up the confirmation process and “end this prelude toward destruction of the Senate as a consensus building institution.”

The resolution offered by Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) to reduce the amount of time the Senate must spend on presidential nominations was passed yesterday by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. It would reinstate a bipartisan proposal that was adopted by the Senate in 2013 to speed up confirmation for President Obama’s nominees. When the proposal was approved by the Senate on January 24, 2013, 78 senators supported the proposal, including 52 Democrats.

“If one party abuses the rules, the other party takes notes and they do the same thing,” Alexander said. “Democrats are making it virtually impossible for President Trump to form his Administration. And what do you think will happen when we have a Democratic President? It doesn't take many Republican senators to take notes to remember.” 

Alexander added: “I would like to see if there's any way I can resurrect the bipartisan spirit that existed in 2011, 2012 and 2013 ... I would like to turn this around and head back in another direction and I think Senator Lankford has the right approach—which is, let's take a relatively reasonable proposal that we adopted once before and adopt it as a rules change in the right way, and avoid piling on nuclear option after nuclear option after nuclear option, which is a prelude to the destruction of the United States Senate as a consensus building institution in this country.”

Alexander spoke yesterday at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration to approve Senator Lankford’s resolution that would reduce the amount of time the Senate must spend debating sub-cabinet executive branch nominees from 30 hours to eight hours and district court nominees from 30 hours to two hours. The resolution would not change the up to 30 hours of post-cloture debate allowed for Supreme Court, Circuit Court, and Cabinet-level nominees. 

You can find a full transcript of his remarks here and watch video here.