I do not know whether or not you are going to take this as good news or bad, but it is time to wake up and look in the closet to see if there is still a monster sleeping there.
And by that I mean, it’s time to ask whether or not the Senate is going to run out of time to confirm all of Biden’s officials by March 31, when PredictIt’s markets pay out. If the answer to this question is YES — that the confirmation process will drag into April — then there is a mountain of money to be made and lost in a few key markets.
This post is going to be an absolute clinic on how to put the hurt on the monster in the Senate’s closet.
First, let’s review the big picture.
Now that Joe Biden has officially seated the Republicans at the kids’ table for his $1.9T COVID bill, it is glaringly obvious that the GOP is retaliating with some truly legendary obstructionism. Basically, Mitch McConnell and his boys have decided they’d rather take their toys and go home than be spoon-fed their $2 trillion supper by Chuck Schumer.
Sen. Ron Johnson has said that he will make the Senate read the entire COVID bill on the floor, which is expected to take at least a full day, and is organizing GOP Senators into shifts so that they can offer potentially hundreds of amendments to slow down its passage.
This tells me that in all likelihood, the Senate will burn through most of next week on COVID relief. For the purposes of my betting, I am assuming that the Senate preserves, at most, 1 day next week for other activities, like confirming nominations.
So let’s do some quick math on Floor time:
- With 1 day next week (March 8-12), and 5 working days in each of the two remaining weeks after, the Senate has 11 days to confirm the remaining 11 nominees.
- It’s a fair assumption that the Senate will take at least one of these Fridays off.
- That leaves 10 days to confirm 11 cabinet members.
- So, assuming the Senate floor is open for 10 hours a day, that’s about 100 hours of floor time.
Now, let’s do some quick math on the nominees themselves
- So far, the Senate’s fastest week in the confirmation game has been 4 nominations, with the usual pace being 3 per week.
- However, we are farther down the cabinet depth chart, and there are now a few nominations ripening that have a max of 2 hours of debate time, as opposed to 30.
When you add up all the floor time needed to confirm the remaining nominees, you get this:
|Nomination||Agency||Hearing||Committee Vote Reported||Debate Time (hours)|
|Total Floor Time||218|
What is “Total Reported”?
That is the maximum amount of time needed to confirm the nominations that are ready to go right this second (8 total).
So if Republicans make Democrats use every hour of debate time, and Chuck Schumer doesn’t pull any late nights, the maximum required floor time to confirm all these 8 nominations is 56 hours greater than what remains before April 1.
Don’t get too excited though…
There is no guarantee that Republicans will use all 30 hours of cloture debate, or that Schumer won’t keep the Senate floor open late at night to speed things along. For the most part, neither side has gone totally ape here. So IMO, the amount of floor time really needed is going to be closer to the 100 hours that are actually available.
But let me be clear — I am confident that at least one of these nominations will slip past March 31. Maybe more. The hard part is deciding which ones that will be.
The Biggest X-Factor Is????
How will Chuck Schumer dispose of the nominations that only need 2 hours of debate time? Those nominations are everything that isn’t listed here. For our purposes, they’re bets on:
- EPA, CIA, and Small Business Administration heads
Because these nominations only take 2 hours of post-cloture debate, Schumer could tack them on to any day just to fill time. Here’s the argument for urgency:
- The CIA is a crucial national security agency.
- The EPA is crucial to the Joe Biden’s policy goals re: climate change
- The Small Business Administration has oversight over the COVID Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — but the Biden Administration seems to be running that from the White House.
And then there are the nominations that are going to be such a pain in the butt that Senate Dems might just procrastinate
- Xavier Becerra — Health & Human Services — Becerra is widely assumed to be in charge of starting the federal government’s first buy-one, get-one sale for abortions; and to give away as much federal money as possible to illegal immigrants
- Deb Haaland — Department of Interior — who Republicans believe is a bigger enemy to the US oil industry than Saddam Hussein, and who bombed worse at her hearing than Cats bombed at the movies.
Both of these will be heavy lifts.
Knowing all this, my bets on the “who doesn’t get in by March 31 deadline” are…
Katherine Tai – USTR, 15c – It’s hard for me to believe that Chuck Schumer will want to burn 30 hours of floor time for a “nice to have” official like her. At the end of the day, the U.S. Trade Representative is an accessory to the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of the Treasury. This nomination usually lags anyway.
Isabel Guzman – Small Business, 20c – This is a gamble. I default to thinking that no one cares about SBA and that most senators forget it even exists due to the fact that mom & pop companies don’t have expensive lobbyists. If price moves my way, I’m selling (PS, I won’t sell in the first 24 hours if this article causes a pump).
Deb Haaland – Interior – I think this one is likely to slip past March 31, but at 39c for a YES, it is brutally expensive and near fair value. If it cheapens up on a favorable news cycle, then I’m in.
So there you have it. But be warned!
These bets are a lot riskier now than they were a month ago. In reality, the odds Iâ€™d set for these to go past March are in the 50-35-35 range. But given the absolutely savage heater I am on right now, I just can’t help but take another roll.