The Washington Post is trying to coin a new term for the 17 days in January between the start of the new Congress and the presidential inauguration. They’re calling it the “Mighty Duck” (as opposed to the lame duck, get it?). Whatever it’s called, this 17 days between January 3 and 20 provide an amazing opportunity for President Obama, provided he gets a Democratic Senate in those 17 days.
[I]f Democrats take control of the Senate, Obama and his allies could spend that period doing something they would love: sticking it to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) by approving a few dozen long-delayed court nominees. Just picture the glee from outgoing Democratic leader Harry Reid (Nev.).This is not difficult to imagine. There are 20 prospective district judges and three prospective circuit court judges already on the executive calendar, ready for floor votes. They need only 51-vote majorities to be approved. So, if Democrats win back the Senate, what’s to stop Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) from taking care of business in those dead days of January? After all, even if Donald Trump does win in November, Schumer would still have Vice President Biden to break ties.
Of course, beyond sticking it to McConnell, they would be filling all these vacancies that have languished for so long, which would be doing everyone in those federal court circuits and districts a big favor. Not to mention how it could help an incoming President Clinton—that much less on her plate come January 21. That—and filibuster reform—should be on the top of Schumer’s 2017 to-do list.
But he’s going to need a Democratic majority to make it happen. It’s looking pretty damned likely at this point, but if 2016 has shown us anything, it’s that it’s a pretty fucked-up election year. We can’t take the Senate for granted.