The pair of confirmation hearings have been delayed at by at least one day after negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, according to a Democratic Senate aide.
Schumer and other Democrats have complained that required financial paperwork has not been completed and submitted to the Office of Government Ethics and that FBI background checks have not been completed for some of the nominees.
“This new hearing schedule is a very good first step but we still have a ways to go,” said Schumer in a statement.
The hearing for billionaire businesswoman Betsy DeVos to be Education Secretary was originally scheduled to begin Wednesday but has been postponed until Jan. 17. The confirmation hearing for Rep. Mike Pompeo to be director of the CIA has been delayed from Wednesday to Thursday because of incomplete paperwork.
In addition, Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants who is nominated to be Labor Secretary, was tentatively scheduled for Thursday but has been pushed back until next week at the request of Republican leadership, according to a Republican Senate aide. Puzder has come under fire from Democrats because of his opposition to the minimum wage and his views about the treatment of workers.
Trump’s “proposed cabinet is unlike any other in terms of its wealth, corporate connections and hard right ideological views, and the American people deserve nothing less than open and deliberate hearings going forward,” Schumer said.
Two other nominees who are scheduled to have committee hearings Thursday – billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to be Commerce Secretary and neurosurgeon Ben Carson to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development – have not completed their paperwork for the Office of Government Ethics, which could impact their hearing schedule, according to a Democratic aide.
The head of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, sent a letter to Schumer over the weekend calling the lack of paperwork by nominees unprecedented.
Because they are in the minority, Democrats have no ability to block the hearings outright, but their public pressure campaign seems to have helped to slow the process.
McConnell is hoping to have seven of Trump’s nominees confirmed by Trump’s first day in office on January 20. He said on Sunday that Democrats should “grow up” and drop their “little procedural complaints.”
Here’s the updated list of confirmation hearings over the next few days:
Attorney General — Sen. Jeff Session, R-Alabama: His confirmation hearing is currently underway. He is a colleague of the senators who will vote on his confirmation but his conservative positions on immigration, LGBTQ issues and voting rights could complicate his confirmation hearings.
Homeland Security Secretary — retired Marine Corp General John Kelly: Kelly will be questioned beginning Tuesday afternoon about Trump’s proposed Muslim ban and border wall with Mexico.
Secretary of State — ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson: Tillerson’s ties to Russia will be a hot topic and Democrats want his complete tax returns.
Transportation Secretary — Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Labor: Will be instrumental in Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan and as a past member of President George W. Bush’s cabinet is unlikely to draw much real opposition.
(continued) Attorney General — Sen. Jeff Session, R-Alabama
(continued) Homeland Security Secretary — retired Marine Corp General John Kelly
Housing and Urban Development Secretary — Ben Carson, surgeon: The former Republican presidential candidate was an early supporter of Trump after his own bid failed but he has no experience managing a large organization.
Defense Secretary — retired Marine Corp General James Mattis: Well-liked and will likely be easily confirmed.
Commerce Secretary — investor Wilbur Ross: The billionaire has no public service record and vast financial holdings
CIA Director — Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas: Will be asked about Trump’s views on the intelligence community.