Biden suffered nine nominees yanked from consideration in 2021
James Wallner, a senior fellow who studies nominations at the conservative R Street Institute, said when it comes to sizing up nominees, both parties scrutinize them differently. He said Republicans are more likely to latch onto a nominee’s political views, while Democrats tend to look to sink nominees with allegations of wrongdoing.
“Republicans are more likely with Biden to emphasize ideological reasons because it fits within their narrative of Joe Biden as a socialist,” he said. “Democrats emphasize scandal or incompetence.”
Mr. Wallner pointed to Mr. Bush’s Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. He said Ms. Miers was well-vetted, but the administration was caught off guard by opposition from conservatives who questioned her stances on abortion and social issues.
The fight over Ms. Miers and others underscores how the Senate has used its power over nominees to influence policy beyond legislation.
Mr. Wallner said the nomination fight has become a proxy debate for some divisive issues in America. For example, both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump encountered fierce opposition to their nominees to head the ATF. Ultimately, both presidents had to pull them amid lukewarm support.
In the case of Mr. Trump’s nominee, Chuck Canterbury, he was criticized by Democrats for being too weak on gun control, while Republicans assailed him for being too aggressive on the issue.
“The parties disagreed because the Senate really doesn’t debate gun legislation,” Mr. Wallner said. “The Senate doesn’t really do anything anymore in terms of legislation. It is a glorified HR agency so people want to see their senators scoring points on a nominee.”