In the history of the United States, there have been 168 filibusters of presidential nominees. Eighty-two of them—nearly half—have occurred during Obama’s presidency. And now he’s facing the possibility of a Republican Senate for the first time. Which means that many of the more than 200 (and counting) nominees awaiting confirmation in the next Senate session could be put in a state of permanent limbo. These aren’t just for piddling back-office jobs, either. We currently don’t have a surgeon general, though we do have Ebola and Enterovirus. (The nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has been languishing since November 2013 due to his support for gun control.) The country is still waiting for the Senate to confirm an ambassador to Argentina, a chief financial officer of Veterans Affairs, a Social Security Administration commissioner, and a National Transportation Safety Board chairman.
Then there’s the judicial system: Obama has 53 district judgeships to fill and seven positions on the Court of Appeals. Currently, the ideological balance is even: 533 of all sitting district court judges were nominated by a Democratic president, compared to 530 by a Republican. Obama has the chance to tilt the balance strongly in the Democrats’ favor, but don’t count on that happening. During his first term, Obama’s district court nominees endured longer confirmation times and lower confirmation rates than those under George W. Bush or Bill Clinton. According to the Brookings Institution’s Russell Wheeler, 68 percent of Obama’s appointees to the district court had to wait more than 180 days, whereas under Clinton it was only 8 percent. And that was with a Democratic Senate. It’ll be hard for the president—who “has already been nominating middle-of-the road candidates,” says Wheeler—to confirm anyone who so much as looks like a liberal.
What the Next Two Awful Years Will Look Like@ THE NEW REPUBLIC