Democrats plan ways to delay Trump cabinet nominations

Congratulations are in order for Senate Democrats.  After eight years of being a rubber-stamp Soviet legislature, they have suddenly rediscovered the joys of congressional oversight.  While Obama's cabinet nominees were approved quickly very early in his administration, Democrats want to drag Trump's out for a while:

Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell are heading for a showdown over Donald Trump's Cabinet.

Schumer, who will become Senate minority leader next week, has privately indicated to McConnell that Democrats may not be willing to go along with quick confirmations for Trump’s nominees if the Senate majority leader’s caucus doesn’t meet several demands, according to sources in both parties familiar with the matter.

.... Schumer is calling for McConnell to not schedule simultaneous confirmation hearings for Cabinet nominees, so that members on multiple committees can attend each confirmation hearing. That could make it difficult for all nominees to be ready for floor votes by Inauguration Day.

Democrats can use Senate procedures to throw sand in the gears of the chamber, though a 2013 rules change prevents them from unilaterally blocking Trump's Cabinet selections. One strategy would force the Senate to go into recess in order to hold some committee hearings; Democrats could also deploy parliamentary tactics to force cloture votes on nominees and drag out debate for days. Democrats estimate they could make the confirmation process take as long as two months.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is vowing to force a “full conversation” on the Senate floor as allowed by the rules, which allow up to 30 hours of debate on Cabinet nominations.

By contrast, Obama's cabinet picks were quickly approved on or after his inauguration.  Hillary Clinton was approved as secretary of state the day after Obama's inauguration, January 21.  Tim Geithner, despite having a little problem with unpaid taxes, was quickly approved on January 26 as treasury secretary.  Ken Salazar was confirmed on January 20, Obama's inauguration day.  Janet Napolitano became secretary of homeland security also on January 20.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was confirmed on January 23.

In most cases, Republicans meekly voted for Obama's ideologues.  But Democrats aren't going to be as meek.  While they were eager to rush Obama's nominees in during Obama's first week in office, look for them to push to delay as much as they can when it comes to Trump's nominees.

Ed Straker is the senior writer at

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