We ask because if Democrats take control of the Senate, Obama and his allies could spend that period doing something they would love: sticking it to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) by approving a few dozen long-delayed court nominees. Just picture the glee from outgoing Democratic leader Harry Reid (Nev.).
This is not difficult to imagine. There are 20 prospective district judges and three prospective circuit court judges already on the executive calendar, ready for floor votes. They need only 51-vote majorities to be approved. So, if Democrats win back the Senate, what’s to stop Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) from taking care of business in those dead days of January? After all, even if Donald Trump does win in November, Schumer would still have Vice President Biden to break ties.
One thing that would be difficult to do, however, is Merrick Garland’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. First, Obama would have to renominate him, and then it would require the Senate Judiciary Committee to move the nomination at warp speed, against protocol. And doing that might alienate more centrist Republicans such as Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.), whose votes are needed to overcome the 60-vote threshold for cloture.
Garland’s options in January still don’t look good. But if Democrats win the Senate, lower-court nominees can hope Schumer kicks off his leadership term by clearing the decks. If he does, maybe the 17-day window can earn a real name.
We vote for Mighty Duck.*
*Hat tip to David Di Martino of Blue Engine Message & Media.
Paul Kane contributed to this report.