Sen. John McCain tried twice Thursday to get a floor vote set for President Trump's pick to be deputy defense secretary but was blocked each time by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"Tomorrow, the current deputy secretary of defense, Bob Work, will leave his office — tomorrow. There simply is no more time to delay in moving the nomination of Patrick Shanahan," McCain said on the Senate floor.
The Arizona Republican first proposed an immediate consent vote on Shanahan, a Boeing executive who could fill the Pentagon's No. 2 civilian post, and when Schumer objected he proposed setting a vote Monday night.
Schumer again objected, quashing the attempt to fast-track the nominee vote and increasing the temperature of an already heated political fight in the chamber over which party is responsible for the slow pace of approving the president's nominees.
"We'd be happy to consider the nominee in regular order and maybe once things change a little bit in healthcare we can, with the consent of my friends on this side of the aisle, move a lot of things quickly," Schumer said.
Republicans, who control the chamber, forwarded three other nominees this week but chose not to consider any Trump picks for the Defense Department, he said.
Meanwhile, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has criticized Schumer's party for "historic obstructionism" in the effort to approve nominees.
McCain, who is Armed Services chairman, said this week he plans to rush through Trump's Pentagon picks following delays and has dished out blame on Democrats as well as his own party.
"Why in the world we would be wasting time on the ambassador to Japan when we have Department of Defense nominees in line is something I can neither account for nor condone," he said. "I don't agree with the senator from New York but I understand his frustration."
Armed Services approved Richard V. Spencer's nomination to be Navy secretary on Thursday and was expected to vote soon on four other Defense Department nominees who had a confirmation hearing this week. The approval is required before nominees can move to the Senate floor for a final confirmation vote.
"You can choose to vote ‘no,' you can choose to vote ‘yes,' but let's just vote," McCain said. "The obstruction has gone on long enough and it has to stop."