President Obama now has his 7-4 majority on the DC Circuit Court, the court that hears challenges to his executive actions. Today the US Senate confirmed Patricia Millett by a vote of 56-38. Millett is but the first of several appointees that Obama plans to move forward.
In the coming days, Senate Democrats plan to move on the nominations for Watt, Wilkins and Pillard as well as Jeh Johnson to lead the Department of Homeland Security and Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve.
It remains to be seen what — if any — retribution that Senate Republicans plan in reaction to the unilateral rules change. The GOP can deny Democrats consent to swiftly hold votes, which many believe is sure to happen. Republicans also can object to run-of-the-mill procedural requests, which could further bog down the chamber in partisanship.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he is “very unhappy” that Johnson hasn’t answered his question about what it will take to secure 90 percent of the border with Mexico — and he’s deciding whether or not to grind the Senate’s gears down. He said that “the anger is there” among his colleagues, nearly three weeks after the rules change.
“If you just rubber-stamp everybody and don’t pose any parliamentary resistance, then what?” McCain said in an interview Monday. “Then you’re setting precedent that they can nominate anybody you want.”
The precedent set goes far beyond that. Obama intends to use executive action to render Congress irrelevant for the remaining years of his presidency. Getting the filibuster destroyed and packing the DC Circuit court with his allies are key moves in that strategy. Even if Republicans re-take the Senate next year, their ability to stop Obama will be quite limited.