Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The Senate rules and administration committee passed a measure Wednesday that would speed up the confirmation process for presidential nominations.
Hundreds of nominations to federal offices, as well as 121 District Court vacancies, have been slowed by party differences in the Senate. With the change, the committee aims to reduce debate time on presidential court and lower-level executive nominees.
The resolution passed by a 10-9 vote along party lines. Republicans have a one-seat edge on the committee, reflected in the vote tally.
Senators have up to 30 hours of debate over nominations, after demonstrating they have a simple majority required to defeat a filibuster. The resolution Wednesday could the debate time to two hours per nominee. Cabinet-level positions would be exempted.
Committee Chairman Roy Blunt said he hopes to work with Democrats on a bipartisan change, but said Republicans will act unilaterally, if necessary.
"We're going to deal with this issue, I think," Blunt said this week. "We're going to try [a bipartisan approach] and I think our Republican members would want to see an effort.
"It's clear that if we don't change this, some Democrat president in the future is going to deal with exactly what President Trump and the Republican Senate has had to deal with."
"President Trump, like every president, deserves to have his team in place," he added in a tweet Tuesday. "Instead, Senate Democrats have used procedural tactics to carry out an unprecedented level of obstruction of his nominees. That's why I introduced a resolution to fix the broken confirmation process."
The vote Wednesday signals a coming fight on the Senate floor before a full chamber vote. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said he seeks a change as a standing order, which would require at least 60 votes. Republicans could also force the vote through by a simple majority, without bipartisan support.
"Republican can change this and will," Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn't think the change would "seriously disadvantage" the minority party.