January 02, 2017
Senate Democrats reportedly plan to attack eight of Republican President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks and stretch their confirmation process from days to perhaps months, despite having essentially no chance of blocking their nominations.
The Democrat senators are vowing to make good on their vow unless the nominees start disclosing personal financial information, according to The Washington Post.
Trump has made eight of 17 Cabinet picks, with four remaining.
The primary targets include Rex Tillerson for secretary of state; Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general; South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney for the Office of Management and Budget; Betsy DeVos as the new education secretary and Steve Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs executive nominated to be treasury secretary.
“President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged Cabinet with nominees that … have made billions off the industries they’d been tasked with regulating,” incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday. “If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a fair hearing process, they’re sorely mistaken.” Schumer didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “rigged.”
Republicans who control the Senate and House plan to begin the confirmation hearings on Trump’s Jan. 20 Inauguration Day.
Republicans have a 52-to-48 majority over Democrats in the Senate.
The nominees will get enough votes in the GOP-run Senate committees but would run into delays when both parties cast final votes on the chamber floor, despite needing only 51 “yeahs.”
Democrats could use procedural moves to extend the debate on each of the nominees. But they don’t have the power to use the filibuster to block the nominations, because in the last Congress they changed the threshold on such filibusters from 60 to 51 votes.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans don’t like the Democrats’ plan and argue they didn’t oppose outgoing Democrat President Obama’s nominations when he took office in 2008.
“Republicans and Democrats worked together and expeditiously to carefully consider his nominees,” McConnell spokesman David Popp told Fox News on Monday.
Popp points out that the Senate held hearings on multiple nominees before Obama was even sworn in, confirmed seven of them on Day One and that nearly all of them were confirmed within two weeks.
“Sen. Schumer and others approved wholeheartedly of this approach at the time,” Popp continued. “So surely they won’t object to treating the incoming president’s nominees with the same courtesy and seriousness.”
The others on the purported list of eight are Georgia GOP Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services; Andrew Puzder for labor secretary; and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the EPA.
Those not on the purported list are Marine Gen. James N. Mattis for defense secretary; South Carolina GOP Gov. Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and former Marine Gen. John Kelly run the Department of Homeland Security.