Senate Democrats have thrown everything they have at Republicans to stall President Trump’s nominees ahead of a bruising Supreme Court confirmation fight, but so far don’t have much to show for it.

Not one but two committees voted Thursday to advance the nomination of Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., for budget director to the Senate floor.

Mulvaney looked beatable. He had failed to pay payroll taxes on a nanny, something that had sunk nominees before. President Bill Clinton withdrew his first two choices for attorney general over a similar issue.

While fiscal conservatives applaud Mulvaney as a rare champion of limited government in Trump’s circle, these same economic and budgetary views were also promising openings for Democratic attacks.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee and former presidential candidate, even compared Mulvaney’s views unfavorably to Trump’s.

“We have a nominee whose ideology is in direct contrast to what President Trump ran on. President Trump told working people and seniors he would not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” Sanders said. “Yet you have a nominee who prides himself, who is a deficit hawk, who has said over and over again that he will do exactly the opposite of what President Trump campaigned on.”

Democrats on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee linked Mulvaney to a past government shutdown. “I want somebody at OMB that understands that brinkmanship is not how we do a budget around here,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

There was even the potential for a Republican defection that might have doomed Mulvaney in committee. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., described Mulvaney’s vote to withdraw troops from Afghanistan as “crazy.” He lambasted the nominee for defense budget cuts.

McCain told Mulvaney during his confirmation hearings “you’ve spent your entire congressional career pitting debt against the military and every time for you the military has been less important.” When Mulvaney failed to remember some details about his votes, McCain shot back, “I would remember if I voted to cut our defenses the way you did, congressman. Maybe you don’t take it with the seriousness that it deserves.”

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But Mulvaney overpaid his back taxes, largely putting that issue to bed. McCain didn’t defect, at least in committee. “I do believe the full Senate should have the opportunity to consider Congressman Mulvaney’s nomination,” he said.

The two committees voted along party lines to advance Mulvaney. Republicans held the most seats, so they won.

That has been the theme of the week. Democrats boycotted committee votes on Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s nominee for secretary of the treasury, and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., the designated secretary of health and human services. Democrats have especially hammered Price, architect of a key GOP Obamacare replacement plan, for conflicts of interest, saying he authored legislation benefiting healthcare companies he has invested in.

But Republicans quickly got around the boycott. They suspended the rules in the Senate Finance Committee requiring at least one Democrat to be present on the second day of the Democratic boycott, and then advanced Mnuchin and Price anyway.

“They have nobody to blame but themselves,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the committee, said of his Democratic colleagues.

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Earlier in the week, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee invoked the “two-hour” rule to delay a vote on Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who has been nominated for attorney general. It only prolonged the inevitable, as Sessions was voted out of committee Wednesday.

So far, every Trump nominee has made it out of committee. When there has been a floor vote, they have been confirmed. Democrats have been dependent on Republican defections and haven’t been getting them in sufficient numbers to defeat any of Trump’s nominees.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looked vulnerable when a trio of hawkish Republicans —McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida — seemed skeptical of his foreign policy answers during his confirmation hearings.

“In order to have moral clarity, we need clarity,” Rubio complained. “We can’t achieve moral clarity with rhetorical ambiguity.”

Tillerson’s close ties to Russia as CEO of Exxon Mobil — he received an award from President Vladimir Putin — gave senators in both parties an opportunity to protest Russian hacking during the presidential campaign by voting against his nomination.

Instead the three senators all voted for Tillerson, a fact that might bode well for Mulvaney on the Senate floor. The defections all went the other way — four Democrats, mostly from states where Trump did well in November, voted for Tillerson and he was confirmed with 56 votes.

Defeating Sessions is the top priority of outside progressive groups, due to his positions on immigration and civil rights. But not only have all 52 Senate Republicans come out in support of Sessions, so has Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

The only nominee cutting it close Thursday night is education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. Two Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have said they will vote against her. So have all 48 Democrats.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer nevertheless expressed “100 percent” confidence in DeVos’ confirmation during a press briefing. If no other Republican defects and Sessions remains in the Senate for her floor vote, she will be confirmed with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence. A vote to end debate on the DeVos nomination is expected Friday morning.

If this is a dry run for opposing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, grassroots Democrats pinning their hopes on an anti-Trump resistance may be disappointed.

Democrats can filibuster Gorsuch, unlike the executive branch appointees. Under the old rules, all the Trump nominees with fewer than 60 votes in the Senate could have been blocked. Those rules still apply for Supreme Court nominees.

Yet the Republicans’ willingness to use the procedural tools at their disposal to overcome Democratic boycotts this week could foreshadow their willingness to use the nuclear option to overcome the filibuster and put Gorsuch on the court.

“That will change the way the Senate does business forever,” said Republican strategist Christian Ferry, suggesting it would not be a good move for the Democrats even though their base demands it.

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