Democrats Aim to Slam Brakes on Key Members of Trump's "Rigged Cabinet"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been warned that Senate Democrats are planning to “aggressively target” eight of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, aiming to delay as long as possible the confirmation hearings slated to start next week. 

“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,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Sunday reported by the Washington Post.

“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 is something Democrats will vehemently resist,” Schumer said. “If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a fair hearing process, they’re sorely mistaken.”

The nominees in the Democrats’ crosshairs are:

  • Secretary of State nominee and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson;
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s pick for attorney general;
  • Heiress Betsy DeVos, nominated for Education secretary;
  • Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Fast-food CEO and Labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder;
  • Treasury nominee Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner;
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency; and
  • Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), tapped to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

Confirmation hearings for Tillerson and Sessions are expected to begin next week. 

But environmental groups have vowed to make Tillerson’s hearing a referendum on his company’s climate record, while civil rights and progressive advocacy groups are mounting a concerted fight against Sessions. 

In a statement released late last week, the NAACP explained its opposition to Sessions’ nomination “for the following reasons: a record on voting rights that is unreliable at best and hostile at worse; a failing record on other civil rights; a record of racially offensive remarks and behavior; and dismal record on criminal justice reform issues.”

The statement read:

Meanwhile, CNN reported Sunday that three groups—the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, People For the American Way, and Alliance for Justice—are calling for Sessions’ hearing to be blocked until he provides sufficient information as requested on a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. 

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According to CNN:

As Common Dreams reported, the wealthy nominees’ financial conflicts of interest could also prove to be a stumbling block. Last month, 16 leading Democrats demanded that each confirmation only move forward if the nominee has cleared an FBI background check; provided a complete financial disclosure; submitted an ethics agreement approved by the Office of Government Ethics; and “satisfied reasonable requests for additional information” that lawmakers have time to review.

On Twitter last week, Schumer noted that while the Senate now has tax returns from Mnuchin and Price, “we’re still waiting on Tillerson & rest of Cabinet.”

While it remains unclear exactly how Democrats could gum up the confirmation works, Politico reported:

The Post points out: “Absent from the Democratic hit list are retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, the pick for defense secretary; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whom Trump has nominated to serve as ambassador to the United Nations; and John Kelly, a former Marine general and Trump’s selection to lead the Department of Homeland Security, signaling that all three should expect little trouble from Democrats.”

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