April 2 (UPI) -- The Senate on Tuesday blocked Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell's efforts to limit debate time on most judicial and executive nominations, increasing chances he'll invoke the nuclear option going forward.
The Senate voted 51-48 in support of the resolution to have 2 hours of floor debate instead of 30 hours for the nominees. It fell short of the 60 votes needed to pass, though.
McConnell introduced the resolution after accusing Democrats of obstructing the confirmation process for nominees some of them ended up voting for. He said the delays are a re-litigation of the 2016 presidential election.
"It's been 354 days and counting in Senate purgatory for the president's nominee to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Two-hundred eighty-seven days and counting for the under secretary of state for management. Noncontroversial lower court nominees have languished for weeks and weeks -- for no discernible reason -- before they, too, were confirmed unanimously," McConnell wrote in an op-ed posted on his website. "These are just a few examples of the historic obstruction Senate Democrats have visited upon President [Donald] Trump's nominees for two years and counting."
Democrats, though, said the resolution was a "power grab."
"It is motivated by the far right's desire to flood the federal judiciary with young, ideological nominees, many of whom -- as we have seen time and again in the Judiciary Committee -- are simply unqualified to serve on our nation's courts," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said."Post-cloture time is a critical tool for senators, especially those who do not sit on the Judiciary Committee, to vet nominees for lifetime judgeships."
With the failure of the resolution, McConnell has indicated he'll use the so-called "nuclear option," in which he needs a simple majority vote, to confirm the nominations.