It wasn’t as good as, say, the actual passage of actual legislation, but Mitch McConnell and his GOP conference got a nice treat from their Democratic opponents as the Senate wrapped up before a five-week recess, as noted by Russell Berman:
In the span of a few minutes on Thursday afternoon, the Senate confirmed dozens of the president’s stalled nominees to key posts in several departments. The departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Commerce got long-awaited deputy, under, and assistant secretaries. NATO, the United Kingdom, and a bevy of other countries received U.S. ambassadors. And three districts got federal prosecutors months after the president fired nearly all of the U.S. attorneys who served under Barack Obama.
It’s not as though Chuck Schumer and his Senate Democrats were just feeling charitable. This was just the other shoe dropping after the failure of the GOP’s health care drive. Democrats had been slowing down the confirmation process for months in a protest against McConnell’s totally partisan and extremely secret proceedings on health care. When Republicans failed, Democrats took the pressure off the more routine nominations, and let a bunch — maybe as many as 65 — go through today on voice votes. That doesn’t mean the federal government is fully staffed, though:
The Senate still has dozens more nominees to consider, including judicial vacancies and most federal-prosecutor posts. And Trump has hundreds more to nominate, including a pick to replace John Kelly as secretary of homeland security after the retired Marine general took over as White House chief of staff on Monday. According to the Partnership for Public Service, the president has nominated people to fewer than 300 positions —about one-quarter of those he needs to fill. But after the Senate’s busy Thursday, Trump’s administration is at least not quite so bare.
And Trump also won’t be able legitimately to blame short-staffing on Senate Democrats so much any more. We’ll see if he adjusts his Twitter whines accordingly.