Cry me a river.
The Senate Republicans have ticked off the Senate Democrats because they scheduled six Cabinet confirmation hearings next Wednesday.
Oh, and President-elect Donald Trump will also hold his first press conference next Wednesday. Plus, the confirmation schedule includes the nominees the Democrats planned to target the most: attorney general, secretary of state, CIA director, education secretary, and transportation secretary.
The Democrats wanted to drag out the process, make it as hard as possible to confirm Trump’s Cabinet. On January 1, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told The Washington Post that his party would “resist” any attempts by the Republicans to rush through the process.
Well, it looks like his request fell on deaf ears. Or it could be because the Democrats failed in the election and the GOP kept the majority.
The minority party fears that the hearings will receive little media attention because of Trump’s press conference, and the fact that it takes place the day after President Barack Obama’s farewell speech:
“That is mostly unprecedented in the modern era of Cabinet considerations, happening only once in history,” Schumer said of the six hearings in one day. “That’s not the standard.”
Schumer said “mostly unprecedented” because six confirmation hearings for President George W. Bush’s nominees were held two days before his 2001 inauguration.
“They’re jamming them together so that they receive less scrutiny and attention individually,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “I regret that there are so many hearings bunched together.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said the Democrats are “just, frankly, whining.” He encouraged the Democrats to work with the GOP to vet and confirm the nominations.
Democrats forget that Republicans also have a busy schedule on Wednesday, all who have brushed aside any possible conflicts. Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) shrugged off the busy schedule as he “has two confirmation hearings that morning and one in the afternoon.” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has the same schedule as Paul and called the Democrats’ complaints “unfounded.”
Here is the schedule for Wednesday:
The schedule Wednesday is jam-packed: The Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson at 9 a.m.; the Intelligence Committee will consider Rep. Mike Pompeo, tapped to lead the CIA, at 10 a.m.; the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee will consider Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos at 10 a.m.; the Commerce Committee will hold a hearing for transportation nominee Elaine Chao (the wife of McConnell) at 10:15 a.m.; and the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will consider DHS nominee Gen. John Kelly at 2 p.m.
In addition, the Judiciary Committee will hold the second day of its hearing examining Sen. Jeff Sessions nomination as attorney general at 9:30 a.m., though it will only feature outside witnesses, as Sessions is set to testify the previous day.
Some Republicans acknowledged the hectic schedule, but want to do what they can to help the Trump administration have a smooth start:
“It’s hard because we’re trying to get a lot of stuff done and make sure the president-elect has a team ready as soon as possible, and there’s only so many days to do that,” said Sen. John Thune, a member of GOP leadership and the chairman of the Commerce Committee. He dismissed the idea that it was an intentional effort by Republicans to limit scrutiny of the nominees.
“I think people who are interested in a particular nominee or a particular subject area will home in on that, focus on that,” he said. “I know a lot of the nominees that are scheduled for hearings next week are people that members on both sides want to question and we’ll do everything to make that possible.”
But someone needs to hand the Democrats a mirror because seven of Obama’s nominees, not all Cabinet positions, received a hearing on a single day before his 2009 inauguration.
Say that to the Democrats and they claim “that Trump’s nominees are uniquely unqualified and have far more complex financial issues than Obama’s nominees.”
The Democrats have complained that former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, has not turned in his tax returns and his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
They also have a problem with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for attorney general, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) for Office of Management and Budget, Betsy DeVos for education, Rep. Tom Price (R-OK) for Department of Health and Human Services, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA.