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.”
A Trump court could conceivably outlaw abortion altogether, which would take us into new political (and medical) terrain. You doubt that would happen? Let’s hope you’re right. But the tides of ultraconservative authoritarianism are rising, and those high waters will change the landscape, especially for women.
Our light, illuminating a separate branch of government, is not yet extinguished. Under the Dome, Congress is scurrying to find its place in the presidential matrix. As disempowered as minority Democrats are, Republicans are wandering the wilderness, too. The establishment lost the election. In politics, which operates on a thousand personal bonds, Donald Trump is an unknown.
The latest inquiry, a bipartisan effort to be led by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, also will explore allegations that similar Kremlin operations are occurring overseas. “Our goal is simple. To the fullest extent possible, we want to shine a light on Russian activities to undermine democracy,” Graham and Whitehouse said in a joint statement.
Republicans have spent decades weaponizing the Supreme Court as a political tool and are on the brink of a payoff that Trump’s creditors never could have imagined. But they also did something dangerous: They proved there is no price for creative obstruction. Democrats need to understand they have the people on their side. And to keep them there, they have to be willing to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous obstruction. Our democracy depends on it.
Gorsuch, unfortunately, must be sacrificed on the altar of obscene partisanship erected by the Republicans in recent years. Temper tantrums designed to undermine the Constitution for naked political purposes cannot be rewarded. Our government cannot survive the short-term games-playing that has replaced fidelity to the intent of the founders’ work in forming this once-great nation.
The Minnesota senator slammed Republicans for attempting to recast their colleague as a voting rights champion. “I know Senator Sessions. We served together since I joined this body… and I know his record on voting rights,” Franken bellowed. “He’s no champion of voting rights.”
The Senate should have seated Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, and then turned to Trump’s nominees as vacancies occurred. Never forget that Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have stolen an open seat that would have tilted the court’s balance away from a right-wing majority.
The boycott in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee delayed the transition to a new administrator for the agency. Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat, said he could not support Pruitt, a Republican and the attorney general of Oklahoma, because he “denies the sum of empirical science and the urgency to act on climate change.”
Democrats stayed away from the meeting for a second day running, which under the committee’s rules normally would have prevented the votes from taking place. But Republicans voted to suspend the rule that had required at least one Democrat to be present for business to be conducted, sending the nominations to the full Senate for a vote.
Judge Gorsuch, despite a reportedly mild-mannered temperament, is known for his anti-choice and anti-LGBT stances, pro-employer rulings in labor disputes, anti-regulatory attitudes, dismissal of scientific expertise, and pro-police bias in brutality cases, according to statements from public interest groups issued after the announcement.
The U.S. Senate panel tasked with vetting Andrew Puzder to head the Labor Department has postponed its tentative plans to hold his confirmation hearing yet again, a move that some political strategists say could signal trouble for the fast-food executive.
A source involved in the selection process said Trump has made his choice between two conservative U.S. appeals court judges — Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman. Adding an element of drama to what is normally a sober announcement, CNN said both finalists, Gorsuch and Hardiman, had been brought to Washington ahead of Tuesday’s announcement.
The Senate voted 93 to 6 to confirm Elaine Chao as head of the U.S. Transportation Department, which overseas aviation, vehicle, train, and pipeline safety. Chao, a former U.S. labor secretary and deputy transportation secretary, will face key decisions on how to regulate the growing use of drones and automakers’ plans to offer self-driving cars.
Senate Democrats said they were postponing the vote because they wanted more information on Price’s stock trades in an Australian medical company and needed more details on reports that Mnuchin’s former bank, OneWest, used automated “robo-signings” of foreclosure documents, which contradicted statements the nominees had made to senators.
President Trump’s cabinet is worth a combined $14 billion, and they are catching flack in recent weeks for confessing an inability to keep track of their vast sums of wealth. Private bankers who work with the ultra rich say that if they had a dollar for every time a client forgot about a million, they would be, well, almost as rich as their clients.
“After being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination,” the former Texas governor said in his opening remarks during his confirmation hearing. Perry’s proposal to get rid of the Energy Department caused what has become known as his “oops” moment during a 2011 Republican presidential candidate debate.
While Republicans for the most part used their allotted five-minute questioning periods to praise DeVos or ask questions that didn’t challenge the nominee, Democrats tried to portray her as both inexperienced and inflexibly ideological. In one devastating exchange, Murphy forced DeVos to admit that she would, in theory, support guns in schools.
Diverging from Trump’s stated aim of seeking closer ties with Russia, Pompeo said that Russia is “asserting itself aggressively” by invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and “doing nearly nothing” to destroy Islamic State.
During the hearings, Tillerson repeatedly said that he and Exxon did not lobby Congress about sanctions against Russia implemented in 2014. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Bob Menendez then confronted Tillerson with lobbying documents that showed Exxon opposed the sanctions and paid Washington-based lobbyists to oppose the legislation.
Booker was free to speak out against Sessions in any other forum, including on the Senate floor when the nomination comes for a vote. But he made the unprecedented choice to do so during the Sessions nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.