Bench Memos

Post Mortem on Liu Cloture Vote

The cloture petition on the Liu nomination obtained a remarkably low total of only 52 “yes” votes, versus 43 “no” votes and one vote (Senator Hatch) of “present” (the functional equivalent of a vote against). The opposition to cloture was bipartisan, as it included Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Only one Republican—Murkowski of Alaska—voted in favor of cloture. Of the four senators who didn’t vote, only one, Baucus (Democrat from Montana), would seem a likely “yes” vote (and, even then, I have to wonder whether he found it politically convenient not to vote).

In sum, there’s no reason to think that a subsequent cloture petition would get more than 53 votes—well short of the 60 needed. So the Liu nomination appears dead.

Indeed, it’s far from clear that Liu would be confirmed on a straight up-or-down vote. As I noted yesterday, Senator Webb, who voted for cloture, has stated that he would vote against confirming Liu, and there may well be some other Democrats (as well as Murkowski) in the same position. For the same reasons that majority leader Harry Reid didn’t try to bring the Liu nomination to the Senate floor last fall in advance of his own re-election contest, I suspect that there are plenty of Senate Democrats happy to see the end of the Liu nomination.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Top Trump Attorney Resigns

John Dowd, the lead attorney representing President Donald Trump in the special-counsel investigation, resigned Thursday, two sources briefed on the matter told the New York Times. [jwplayer PCWBu1GF-wKJ9CRQU] Dowd, who began leading Trump's legal team last summer, has repeatedly floated the idea of ... Read More

Bunnies and the Art of Total Political War

Vice President Mike Pence is a gentleman. In spite of unceasing abuse from political opponents, including the effrontery of a gratuitous lecture from the cast of Hamilton, the veep’s commitment to good manners has never wavered. The same can be said of his 24-year-old daughter Charlotte, even after the ... Read More

Thursday Links

It's William Shatner's birthday: Here he is in 1978 'singing' Rocket Man, plus a Star Trek/Monty Python mashup. Sold: Isaac Newton’s Notes on the Philosopher’s Stone. It was a long time before anyone admitted that he was interested in alchemy. High-tech forgery: Computer-generated 'Rembrandt' ... Read More

Louie Gohmert Says Mueller Should Be Fired

The handful of congressional Republicans calling for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to be fired added a high-profile member of the House Judiciary Committee to their ranks on Wednesday. Texas representative Louie Gohmert said in no uncertain terms Wednesday that he wants Mueller's Russia investigation ... Read More
Economy & Business

Two Conservative Causes, in Conflict

Conservatives have argued for decades that the capital-gains tax should be indexed to inflation. When George H. W. Bush was president, some conservatives argued that he could interpret the tax laws in a way that let him adopt this policy without a vote of Congress. Now that Larry Kudlow is director of the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Nazis, Rap Songs, and McDougals

In 1991, Edwin Edwards, a Democrat, and David Duke, a Republican, ran for governor of Louisiana. There was a memorable bumper sticker: “Vote for the Crook, Not the Nazi.” The crook, in fact, won -- beating the Nazi (and Klansman) by about 61 percent to 39 percent. I thought of this when contemplating ... Read More