Three Trump Cabinet Nominees Advance to Full Senate, Tensions Rise

Tensions rose the week of January 29 over several of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations, including Steve Mnuchin, who Mr. Trump selected to lead the Department of the Treasury, Representative Tom Price (R-GA), chosen to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), tapped to be director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). All three departments manage programs affecting low income households: Treasury oversees the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, HHS administers healthcare priorities under the Affordable Care Act, and OMB plays a critical role in creating the budget for each department, including HUD and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Housing Service.

After Senate Democrats boycotted the Finance Committee vote, Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) suspended the requirement for a quorum, and Republicans voted 14-0 to approve Mr. Mnuchin’s nomination.  Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) responded: “It’s deeply troubling to me that Republicans on the Finance Committee chose to break the rules in the face of strong evidence of two nominees’ serious ethical problems.” Democrats argued that Mr. Mnuchin “gave inaccurate and misleading testimony and responses to questions to the Committee” and that Mr. Price engaged in stock trades on companies that could have benefited from legislation Mr. Price supported.

On February 1, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGA) postponed for a day a scheduled vote on Mr. Mulvaney’s nomination after Democrats complained that they received Mr. Mulvaney’s FBI file only minutes before the meeting began. The HSGA Committee and Budget Committee approved Mr. Mulvaney’s nomination the following day on party-line votes, including a yeah vote from Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who noted that he still has concerns about the Congressman’s record on defense spending.

All three nominees now go to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.