One day after Senate Democrats delayed voting on President Trump’s nominations of Sen. Jeff Sessions (D-AR) to become Attorney General and banker Steven Mnuchin to become Secretary of the Treasury, their respective nominations were affirmed amid partisan rancor.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 along party lines to confirm Sessions. However, the Senate Finance Committee used a rare revocation of its rules to proceed with the Mnuchin confirmation after the committee’s Democrats boycotted the nomination vote for a second day in a row. Mnuchin was confirmed in a 14-0 vote, with only Republicans participating in the confirmation. The Finance Committee followed the same procedure in confirming Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to become Secretary of Health and Human Services.
“For the record, I’ll note that the Senate Parliamentarian Office has confirmed that this course of action is consistent with both the committee and Senate rules,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the committee’s chairman. “I will also note for the record that every Republican member of the committee was present and voting, exceeding the one-third requirement for a quorum under Rule 4. The only thing missing was a member from the minority side. But, as I noted, they, on their own accord, refused to participate in this exercise.”
The Committee’s ranking member, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), took umbrage with Hatch’s actions while repeating his party’s complaints about the nominees.
“It’s deeply troubling to me that Republicans on the Finance Committee chose to break the rules in the face of strong evidence of two nominees’ serious ethical problems.” Wyden said in a statement. “Today, for the first time in history, the Senate Finance Committee broke the rules to push through on a partisan basis two nominees; one, Congressman Tom Price, whose stock trades call into question whether he will work in the public interest or his own, and the other, Steven Mnuchin, who appears to have misled the committee on his company’s foreclosure practices after the Great Recession.”