WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that even though Democrats don’t have the votes to stop President Trump’s cabinet nominees, their strategy is working by being able to highlight how bad they are.
“When you get millions of calls and demonstrations and a nominee is exposed for being who they are, it’s going to have a profound and positive effect, even if she gains office,” Schumer said on Capitol Hill today after the confirmation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. “So we’re very happy with the results and we’re going to continue them.
“We’re going to have long debates on Sessions and we’re going to have debates on Price,” he added of the nominees for attorney general and secretary of Health and Human Services.
Schumer argued that the nominees “are so far afield from what President-elect Trump promised, from what candidate Trump promised and even President Trump promised — defend the average person, don’t side with the big interests on Wall Street — that we think that they demand a full, full vetting.”
That vetting, the senator opined, is “greatly weakening President Trump’s ability with the American people because he’s not doing what he promised.”
Asked if Dems plan on running out the debate clock on all remaining nominees, as they did with the all-night debate before the DeVos vote, Schumer replied, “Stay tuned.”
At his own press availability outside a closed policy luncheon on the Hill, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said getting through Trump’s cabinet nominees is “taking longer than it should, but we’ll get through all of them sooner rather than later.”
“We’ve done a little research and we found that this is the slowest time for a new Cabinet to be up and running since George Washington. This level of obstruction at the beginning of an administration is really record-setting in a very unfortunate way,” McConnell said. “It’s really time for our friends on the other side to get over the election, let this administration get up and get running.”
Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) in particular decried the drag on Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-Ala.) attorney general nomination.
The Senate voted 52-47 today to advance to debate on Sessions’ nomination, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) crossing the aisle to support the motion. A vote on the nomination is expected this week, and Dems were expected to pull another all-nighter tonight.
“What I find particularly egregious is the fact that Democrats have slowed down and slow-walked and obstructed the nomination — confirmation of one of the president’s national security cabinet members, and that would be Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general,” Cornyn said.
“They know how this story ends,” the senator added. “They know we’re going to be successful. So stunts like staying up all night and making speeches, I’m not sure who they’re trying to impress other than their dysfunctional base by stopping and slowing down these confirmations which will be successful eventually.”
Schumer also met today with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch — “a very smart, polite and capable man who loves being an judge” — and told reporters his confirmation process would be shaped by “a perilous time in the relationship between the executive and judicial branches.”
“On the campaign trail and from inside the White House, President Trump has shown a deep contempt for an independent judiciary that doesn’t always bow before him,” the Dem leader said.
“…The Senate has been hoodwinked before. Justice Roberts promised to call the balls and strikes, but he has used his perch on the bench to rewrite the law and bend the court in the direction of special interests. In many cases — most egregiously, Citizens United. Fool us once, shame on the nominee. Fool us twice, shame on the Senate.”