Republicans were outraged Tuesday morning as Senate Democrats refused to attend Senate Finance Committee votes on two of President Trump’s highly qualified cabinet nominees, postponing their consideration.
Senate Democrats boycotted votes to advance Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump’s choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services, and Steven Mnuchin, his pick to head the Treasury Department. Chairman Orrin Hatch expressed his disappointment and frustration, saying, “These two nominees are going to go through, regardless, and they didn’t lay a glove on them — as far as I was concerned — during the hearings.”
He added, “I can’t remember us treating their nominees this way.” Hatch said that the obstructionism was “unprecedented.”
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“I can’t understand why senators, who know we’re going to have these two people go through, can’t support the committee,” said Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
“I’m very disappointed in this kind of crap. … Some of this is because they just don’t like the president.”
“This is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in my whole time in the United States Senate,” he added.
Democrats walked out of the Senate Finance Committee hearing room, arguing that Mnuchin and Price misled senators in their testimony before the panel, and saying they could not allow a vote to proceed without more information.
Chairman Hatch said he would try to hold a vote on the nominees later today.
Democrats said they want to bring Price and Mnuchin in for further questions on charges regarding ethical issues. Mnuchin has been pressed by Democrats about his time at the head of OneWest Bank and “whether it treated homeowners facing foreclosure fairly.”
Price, whose expertise on health care policy is unassailable, is being attacked for conflicts of interest in his investment portfolio. Washington D.C.-based political consultant Ellen Carmichael, a former press secretary for Price, explained in a recent interview why the charges are entirely specious and political.
“The long and short of it is, Dr. Price, like probably every member of Congress, has a diversified stock portfolio,” she said in the KTSA radio interview. “And because he’s so ethical, he actually has a Morgan-Stanley brokered account, which means that Dr. Price did not actually engage in the buying and selling of individual stocks.”
Carmichael pointed out that healthcare “makes up one-sixth of the economy and most wise investors and brokers acting on behalf of investors are investing in health care stocks as well as a variety of other stocks.”
She continued, saying, “There’s absolutely nothing unethical, unusual, out of the ordinary about what happened, but they’re trying to conduct a character assassination on someone who they can’t beat on expertise, they can’t beat on ideas, they can’t beat on character, so they’re going to pull the trick out of the Harry Reid playbook, which is to make up a blatant lie about somebody, run it in the press, and hope it sticks.”