Back from a ten day break, the U.S. Senate on Monday evening easily approved President Donald Trump’s nominee for Commerce Secretary, but Democrats again made clear they would not allow swift action on several other Trump Cabinet nominees, as Republicans again protested the extended delays.
“It’s our hope that Democrats will stop the obstruction,” President Trump said at the White House, as he derided opponents who have vowed to ‘resist’ his administration.
“They want to resist everything, including Cabinet members,” Mr. Trump said.
“It’s called obstruct and resist,” the President added.
The vote in the Senate to approve Wilbur Ross as the next Secretary of Commerce was 72 to 27, as twenty Democrats broke ranks to back Mr. Trump’s choice.
“It’s high time we got this position filled,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD), as Democrats had refused to allow a vote on Ross before a week back home.
Republicans then moved to bring up the nomination of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), for the job of Interior Secretary – but Democrats refused to allow an immediate vote, again insisting on up to 30 hours of debate allowed under Senate rules.
Democrats said they were in no mood to just allow swift action on the remaining Trump Cabinet nominees.
“He is turning the keys of this government over to his wealthy friends,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT).
Republicans gave such protests from Democrats yet another legislative eye roll.
“I’ve said it before, by holding up these qualified nominees, they’re not only preventing the Executive Branch from working,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), “but they’re also keeping us from our other job,” as the Senate has yet to spend any serious time on legislation in the first two months of this year.
Three Cabinet nominations are in line to be considered by the Senate – Zinke for Interior, Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development, and Rick Perry for Energy Secretary.
But if Democrats use all the procedural levers that are at their disposal under the Senate rules, only Zinke and one other nomination will get a vote the rest of this week – leaving one unlucky soul to wait another full week to be confirmed.
Two other Cabinet nominations – for Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Agriculture – do not yet have hearing dates set.