Over the last two years, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has helped engineer one of the most indolent Congressional schedules of activity ever. Now that he has a Republican president about to take office, however, he’s about to pick up the pace. This Wednesday he is scheduling six confirmation hearings for Trump-cabinet–level employees, on the very day that debate concludes over the budget resolution that sets up an Obamacare repeal and Democrats offer a blizzard of amendments. To add to the fog, Donald Trump is holding his first press conference since winning the election on — you guessed it — Wednesday.
Senate Democrats will be radically overextended by this jam-packed day. They will have to ask tough questions at multiple simultaneous confirmation hearings, and also participate in a budget resolution “vote-a-rama” seeking to embarrass and discomfit Republicans on their secret budget/Obamacare plans. Their leader, Chuck Schumer, says they’ll try to slow down the confirmation hearings, in part by attributing the stampede to a desire to circumvent the ethics vetting Team Trump has not bothered to prioritize.
“Any attempt by Republicans to have a series of rushed, truncated hearings before Inauguration Day and before the Congress and public have adequate information on all of them is something Democrats will vehemently resist,” Schumer added in a statement to The Washington Post confirming his caucus’s plans. “If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a fair hearing process, they’re sorely mistaken.”
It’s not clear exactly what “vehemently resist” means other than agitating the air with wailing and gnashing of teeth and hoping people notice. That’s the other devilish aspect of the GOP’s plans for Wednesday: News media will undoubtedly miss a lot of potential stories by covering bits and pieces of the Senate action (many media folk will look for any excuse not to have to explain the procedural intricacies of a “vote-a-rama”) plus a rare Trump presser. And in terms of public attention, it’s the time of year when some big weather event is always going to be in the news.
Mitch McConnell and his House and Team Trump allies would love to get through this week of potential controversy with the whole world focused on something, anything else. Cramming it all into one day makes that a lot more likely.