Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) announced on Sunday, January 1, that he plans to apply greater scrutiny to the confirmation process for eight of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees.
“President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged cabinet with nominees that would break key campaign promises and have made billions off the industries they’d be tasked with regulating,” Schumer stated.
The New York Democrat told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Democrats will “vehemently resist” any attempt by Republicans “to have a series of rushed, truncated hearings before Inauguration Day and before the Congress and public have adequate information on all of them.”
Interestingly enough, according to a source for The New York Post a few days ago, Trump – a native New Yorker – told Schumer in a private phone conversation that he liked Schumer better than Republicans McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, because “they both wanted him to lose”.
The eight cabinet selections which Schumer is targeting for greater review include Secretary of State nominee Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson; Attorney General Nominee Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama); Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-South Carolina) who was selected to lead the Office of Management and Budget; Education Secretary businesswoman Betsy Devos; Department of Health and Human Services nominee Representative Tom Price (R-Georgia); Labor Secretary nominee CEO of CKE Restaurants Andrew Puzder; Treasury nominee former Goldman Sachs partner Steve Mnuchin; and EPA nominee Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
Schumer has told McConnell that he wants the eight nominees to participate in at least two days of hearings in separate weeks, meaning that no more than two Cabinet nominees can participate in a hearing during the same week.
Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to demonstrate the difference between the staggered senate confirmation process for the Trump cabinet nominees and the more rapid timeline for President Barack Obama’s cabinet nominees in 2008, during a January 2 appearance on CNN’s “New Day” program with Alisyn Camerota. “So 13 members of president Obama’s team were in place within five days of him taking office, seven before he got sworn in. That’s the kind of way it should be looked at.”
On a more positive note, Schumer has indicated that he is willing to work with President-elect Trump on his proposed trillion-dollar infrastructure project, which would overhaul America’s roads and bridges. Schumer also shares Trump’s opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which has not yet been ratified. Trump has repeatedly announced that he plans to reject the TPP.
The Senate convenes January 3. It will be interesting to see if Schumer stonewalls the Trump cabinet nomination process or if some type of compromise is reached.
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