Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put on a great dog-and-pony show to make it look like Toomey was working to get his home-state nominees confirmed. This afternoon, Toomey had a chance to really support those nominees, and he was – surprise! – missing in action.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked for unanimous consent for the Senate to vote to confirm all 15 federal district court nominees pending on the Senate floor. Most have been waiting for more than four months since committee approval for a floor vote, including two from Pennsylvania who were jointly recommended by Sens. Toomey and Bob Casey. In fact, six of the nominees have been waiting for a vote since last year!
McConnell objected. Toomey was nowhere to be found to stand up for his nominees, who would fill vacancies that have been open since August and September of 2013.
Then Sen. Warren sought unanimous consent to vote on a smaller list, one that still included the Pennsylvania nominees. And once again, McConnell objected, and Toomey was nowhere to be found.
(Warren then tried with only four non-Pennsylvania nominees, then only one, but her efforts were nevertheless shot down, this time by Republican Orrin Hatch.)
This would have been a great opportunity for Toomey to stand up to his party boss and demand a vote for his nominees, who were fully vetted and approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee way back in January. As a member of the majority party, Toomey’s requests would presumably carry more weight with McConnell than Casey’s. But we’ll never know, because Toomey would not publicly stand up against McConnell.
This is sadly reminiscent of Toomey’s non-supportive “support” for Pennsylvanian Phil Restrepo for the Third Circuit, when Toomey cooperated with GOP leadership in their efforts to slow down the confirmation process as much as possible.
And of course, Toomey quickly obeyed when McConnell demanded that his fellow Republicans refuse to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. This unprecedented act of obstruction has significant harmful consequences, as described in a recent report by our affiliate People For the American Way Foundation and the Constitutional Accountability Center.
So perhaps Toomey could adopt this as a campaign slogan:
Pat Toomey: Putting Pennsylvania first (Except when his Washington DC party boss tells him not to)