At one point, a frustrated audience member implored him: “Answer the question Mitch!” after he offered a curt answer to a woman asking about lost coal jobs in eastern Kentucky. As he began leaving the event, escorted by state and local law enforcement, a few in the crowd booed. Someone shouted “Do your job!”
Besides the open Supreme Court seat that Republicans refused to act on during Obama’s last year in office, there are currently 112 vacancies across the federal bench. Obama made 54 nominations to those seats that Republicans refused to confirm, including several dozen where they never held a final vote. In short, the GOP mounted a judicial coup.
Until recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tolerated Trump’s turbulent debut because they agreed with the direction the White House was heading — or were confident they could nudge it in the desired one. But the newfound partnership is showing signs of serious strain.
As an avalanche of security issues distracts the Trump administration in its third week, two ranking Democratic senators have sent letters of inquiry to the White House regarding the staff’s possession of private Republican National Committee email accounts; the president’s use of a personal, unsecured smartphone; and reports of mishandling sensitive documents during a dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Florida over the weekend.
Four Republican senators have not yet said whether they will support labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder, raising suspense about whether he will survive an initial confirmation hearing this week. Puzder has faced staunch opposition from Democrats and protests from union-backed groups about policies at CKE’s food chains.
President Donald Trump swore in former Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood financier, Steven Mnuchin, as Treasury secretary on Monday, putting him to work on tax reform, financial de-regulation, and economic diplomacy efforts. At a White House swearing-in ceremony, Trump said Mnuchin would be a “great champion” for U.S. citizens.
There’s no question that the decision to silence Warren backfired — badly. The furor gained the Massachusetts senator far more attention than her otherwise routine speech would have if it hadn’t been interrupted. The result: The majority leader turned the confirmation vote on Sessions, a loss for the Democrats, into a vehicle they could use to rally their partisan base.
Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Labor personally owes millions of dollars to a convicted bank that is relying on the same department to waive sanctions for its crimes. The ties between embattled appointee Andrew Puzder and the multinational bank UBS were listed in federal documents, but they were not explicitly acknowledged in Puzder’s ethics agreement with federal regulators.
In the Senate, Democrats could propose amendments to a replacement bill that would set specific goals of access, cost, and quality—essentially requiring Trump to take responsibility for his promises that the healthcare replacement will be, in his words, “insurance for everybody.”
In a letter to Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin asked for details on “lobbying” activities in the bank related to review of the Dodd-Frank Act and the Obama-era fiduciary rule on financial advice.
Betsy DeVos is a doctrinaire right-winger who means to destroy public education, replacing it with a system of religious schools that serve the middle class and the wealthy. Implacably hostile to the public commons, she would rip apart a core asset of our democracy.
The Senate voted 52-47 on Friday to confirm Representative Tom Price as the top U.S. healthcare official, putting a determined opponent of Obamacare in position to help President Donald Trump dismantle the healthcare law. Price, in his new job, will have authority to rewrite rules implementing the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
I first noticed this influx of visitors from the past — men, mostly — shortly after the election. Filling my email inbox. Trolling my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Offering one unsolicited directive after another about how women should be conducting themselves. Lately, I’m wondering whether time travel isn’t contagious. Spreads like a syndrome maybe.
Jeff Sessions who has served two decades in the Senate from Alabama, was confirmed by a 52-47 vote after strong pushback from Democrats concerned about his record on civil rights. In a rare move for a senator recently confirmed to a Cabinet position, Sessions took to the floor of the chamber and called for members of Congress to have some “latitude” in their relationships with members of the other party.
Tentative plans for Puzder’s hearing have been repeatedly postponed amid delays with a review by the Office of Government Ethics. Those stem from the complexities surrounding how Puzder will divest himself from CKE Restaurants, which is owned by private equity firm Roark Capital Group.
Surely there are more than two Republican senators who are smart enough to realize that Betsy DeVos is underqualified and incompetent to lead the Department of Education. A few heads should be hanging with shame in the Senate. If they were unable to show basic guts in such a clear-cut matter, Americans can expect no courage from them in the worrisome years to come.
Silenced on the Senate floor by Republican colleagues, Elizabeth Warren took her criticism of Trump’s attorney general nominee out to the hallway — and found much larger platform. The action prompted a tide of support on Facebook for Warren under a hashtag #LetLizSpeak after she went outside the chamber and read the letter in a video posted on the site that drew more than 5 million views.
Price testified before the Senate health committee that he had purchased the stock at the same price that was available to all other investors. But the Senate Democrats noted that new reports indicate Price had purchased discounted shares in two separate private placements offered to fewer than 20 U.S. investors.
DeVos’s free-market principles are on full display in Detroit, where for-profit charter school operators have sowed chaos without creating any educational gains. Detroit’s miserable educational outcomes are some of the worst in the nation, and liberals have pointed to them frequently in their objections to DeVos.
The destructive toll of Donald Trump’s presidency is beginning to emerge, foreshadowing what’s likely to come as the White House and congressional Republicans begin to reverse, repeal, and replace federal laws and regulations. While Trump’s red-state supporters may be cheering now, they’ll soon feel the consequences.
President Trump’s choice of billionaire Betsy DeVos to be education secretary was confirmed by the Senate, but only after Vice President Pence was called in to break a tie that threatened to defeat her. The tie-breaking vote, which Senate officials said was unprecedented to confirm a president’s Cabinet nominee, came after two Republicans joined with 46 Democrats and two independents in opposition to DeVos.
Democrats have expressed worry that Gorsuch could act as a rubber stamp for the Republican president’s policies on a nine-seat Supreme Court poised to revert to a conservative majority. With four liberals and four conservatives now on the court, Gorsuch’s confirmation would restore the conservative majority that had existed for decades until the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Governor Rick Scott recently warned Florida’s seaports that they could lose critical state funding if they make any shipping deals with Cuba. He later told reporters: “I don’t believe any port in our state, none of them, should be doing business with a brutal dictator.” These would be stirring words if they didn’t reek with hypocrisy.
Over 400 former EPA staff members sent a letter to the U.S. Senate asking its members to reject the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the agency’s new administrator, saying “he has shown no interest in enforcing environmental laws.”