Saturday, January 14, 2017

Cabinet and Executive Nomination News

The Senate’s Role in Confirming Trump’s Cabinet, Explained

Trump’s Cabinet picks undergo grueling prep for hearings

Senate readies for blizzard of confirmation battles

GOP slows Trump Cabinet confirmation pace

Sen. Jeff Sessions — Attorney General (Google News)

Judiciary Committee page for U.S. Attorney General Nomination
Hearing held Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Hearing held Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sessions Is a Highly Qualified Pick for Attorney General
As a four-term member of the Senate, Sessions has a distinguished record on the Judiciary Committee and has extensive experience within the federal judiciary as assistant U.S. attorney and U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. He also has experience at the state level as former attorney general of Alabama. As a prosecutor and Alabama attorney general, he aggressively pursued and obtained criminal convictions for violent felonies and drug crimes, effectively pursued criminal charges against members of the Ku Klux Klan, and worked to desegregate Alabama schools.

Sessions Promises To ‘Root Out’ And Prosecute Waste, Fraud
Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama pledged Tuesday to prioritize rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government if the Senate confirms him as the next attorney general. Sessions used his opening statement of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to emphasize that he believes the federal government must accelerate efforts “to protect the United States Treasury from waste, fraud and abuse.” “We cannot afford to lose a single dollar to corruption and you can be sure that if I am confirmed, I will make it a high priority of the (Department of Justice) to root out and prosecute fraud in federal programs and to recover any monies lost due to fraud or false claims,” Sessions said in his prepared remarks.

8 Takeaways From the First Day of Jeff Sessions’ Confirmation Hearings

Four key takeaways from Day Two of the Sessions confirmation hearings

Jeff Sessions should have been a tough sell in the Senate, but he’s too nice
He is one of the more well-liked members of the Senate, a place that still retains elements of one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. He is genial, respectful and patient toward colleagues and staff. And that has given fellow Republicans and even some Democrats reason not to scrutinize the more unsavory allegations of his political history.

How a Jeff Sessions Justice Department Can Change Course on Crime

Justice reform a sticking point between Sessions and Senate GOP

Sessions faces Senate critics at hearing
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., forcefully denied allegations of racism and pledged to ramp up law enforcement efforts during a hearing on his nomination for attorney general before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. “I am ready for this job,” Sessions told the panel on which he has served for 20 years. “It will be my unyielding commitment to you, if I am confirmed, to see that laws are enforced faithfully, effectively, and impartially.” Sessions made news on several fronts, including: opposing a ban on Muslim immigration; declaring waterboarding illegal torture; supporting continued use of the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and vowing to recuse himself from any investigation related to Hillary Clinton or her family’s foundation.

Tim Scott endorses Sessions for attorney general (also in POLITICO)
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Senate Republicans' only black member, announced on the eve of Sen. Jeff Sessions's confirmation hearing that he will support the Alabama Republican's attorney general nomination.

Black Pastors Say Trump's Atty. Gen Pick Jeff Sessions Is Not Racist
Black pastors have denounced "baseless" accusations that Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who is President-elect Donald Trump's choice to be the next attorney general of the United States, is a racist.

VIDEO: Black Leaders Who Support Jeff Sessions: ‘He Is a Good Man, Let That Be Heard’

Democrats turn up heat at Sessions grilling
The most striking comments came from unprecedented oppositional testimony from Sen. Corey Booker, D-N.J., who became the first sitting senator to appear against one of his colleagues seeking a Cabinet position.

Cory Booker kicks off 2020 maneuvering in the Senate
Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) decision to testify Wednesday against Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, is the first clear signal that the 2020 maneuvering in the upper chamber has begun. Booker is taking the unprecedented step of testifying against a fellow senator who has been selected for a Cabinet post.

[This, from the same man who does not want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the president's “signature” domestic achievement, which has shifted millions of Americans to taxpayer-funded health “insurance” and wreaked havoc on the private health insurance market, because this “shouldn't be about politics,” he says.]

Sen. Cotton rips Booker for Sessions testimony

AG Pick Sessions Defends Record at Contentious Hearing
Sen. Jeff Sessions made his case to be attorney general Tuesday, in a confirmation hearing punctuated by racially charged protesters and warnings from Democrats that minorities fear he wouldn’t protect their rights as the Justice Department leader. “You know who I am. You know what I believe in. You know that I am a man of my word and can be trusted to do what I say I will do,” Sessions, 70, said. “You know that I revere our Constitution and am committed to the rule of law. And you know that I believe in fairness, impartiality, and equal justice under the law.”

Washington pot protesters have wary eye on Trump's attorney general pick
Pro-marijuana activists planning to light thousands of joints at Donald Trump's presidential inauguration in a call for national legalization of the drug fear a reversal of recent gains if his attorney general pick is confirmed.

Steven Mnuchin — Secretary of the Treasury (Google News)

Hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 19, 2017

Mnuchin confirmation hearing set for Thursday
The hedge fund manager, Hollywood financier and former Goldman Sachs banker will face questions about his plans for taxes, financial regulation, trade, management of the federal debt and a host of other topics relevant to the top economic post in the administration.

Republicans brush off attacks on Trump Treasury nominee

Rex W. Tillerson — Secretary of State (Google News)

Hearing held Wednesday, January 11, 2017

9 Issues Discussed at Rex Tillerson’s Confirmation Hearing to Be Trump’s Secretary of State
In a moment where Russia is under fire for interfering in the U.S. election, and the Kremlin’s fingerprints are all over some of the world’s dominant conflicts, including the war in Syria and fight against ISIS, senators pressured Tillerson on whether he could respond appropriately given his private sector experience.

Marco Rubio goes after Trump’s pick for secretary of state. Hard.
Rubio signaled that he has no intention of deferring to Trump on the issue of Russia. He came out in full bulldog mode about Tillerson's economic and personal ties to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

McCain, Graham still have questions about Tillerson

Schumer to Trump, Tillerson: Back new Russia sanctions
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is urging President-elect Donald Trump and his top Cabinet picks to publicly support tougher sanctions against Russia for meddling in the White House race.

Exxon subsidiary did business with Iran under Tillerson: report

Ret. Gen. James Mattis — Secretary of Defense (Google News)

Hearing held Thursday, January 12, 2017

Top 11 Mattis quotes from his Senate confirmation hearing
Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis has a reputation for giving quotable quotes, based on his thoughtful consideration of warfare and strategy, and deep reading of military history.

Pentagon Nominee James Mattis Warns of Russian Attempts to ‘Break NATO’
Russia is the principal threat facing the United States, and the new administration should increase support to allies in the face of the Kremlin’s attempts to “break the North Atlantic alliance,” Donald Trump’s choice for defense secretary testified Thursday. Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. and its NATO partners must strengthen the mutual defense alliance.

In Break from Trump, Mattis Pushes for Tough Stance on Russia
James Mattis, Donald Trump’s choice for Defense secretary, advocated several shifts in U.S. national security policy in his confirmation hearing Thursday, including a much tougher stance on Russia than the president-elect has articulated. On several topics during his Senate Armed Services testimony, the retired Marine Corps four-star general differed in substance or tone from positions Trump took in the campaign. Unless Trump or Mattis changes his view, the contrasts could lead to tensions between the White House and the Pentagon.

Mattis clears first hurdle to lead Pentagon
Retired Gen. James Mattis moved one step closer to taking the top job at the Pentagon today, garnering his first congressional stamp of approval. President-elect Donald Trump’s defense secretary nominee is well-liked but ineligible to take the position without a waiver from Congress. The law requires retired military members to wait at least seven years before taking the reins of the Defense Department, a restriction designed to maintain civilian control of the military. Congress has made only one exemption to that rule—for Gen. George Marshall in 1950.

U.S. House backs waiver allowing Mattis to serve as defense secretary
The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday cleared the way for quick confirmation of James Mattis to serve as President-elect Donald Trump's secretary of defense, backing a waiver that will allow him to serve less than seven years after retiring from active duty as a Marine General in 2013. The House voted 268 to 151, largely along party lines, for a one-time waiver of a provision of a law on civilian control of the U.S. military that requires a seven-year wait after retirement before active-duty military can lead the Department of Defense. The waiver, which must still be signed by the president to become law, clears the way for Mattis to lead the Pentagon if he is confirmed, as expected, by the Senate. The Senate passed the waiver on Thursday by 81-17. A White House spokesman said on Friday that President Barack Obama would sign the measure if it came to his desk, rather than make it wait for Trump to be sworn in as president on Jan. 20.

Vincent Viola — Army Secretary (Google News)

David Shulkin — Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Google News)

Meet David Shulkin, Trump’s Pick to Lead VA

Trump’s surprise VA pick known as turnaround artist President-elect Donald Trump surprised many when he chose one of President Obama’s appointees to run the Department of Veterans Affairs after pledging to overhaul the department during the campaign. But the nominee, current under secretary of health David Shulkin, has a long history in the private sector turning around struggling hospitals.

Retired Gen. John Kelly — Secretary of Homeland Security (Google News)

Hearing held Tuesday, January 10, 2017

3 Takeaways From Gen. John Kelly’s Homeland Security Confirmation Hearing

Trump’s pick for Homeland Security wins bipartisan support
Kelly, 66, is a four-star general with 45 years of military experience and most recently led the U.S. Southern Command before retiring last year. He was Trump’s first choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, a sprawling bureaucracy with a $40 billion budget and a quarter of a million employees that will oversee many of Trump’s controversial campaign pitches: a border wall, ramped up deportations, and limited Muslim immigration.

Fmr Senator Dan Coats — Director of National Security (Google News)

Dan Coats, the ‘Mister Rogers’ Senator Poised to Be Intelligence Chief

Dan Coats Announced as Trump’s Pick for Director of National Intelligence

Rep. Mike Pompeo — CIA Director (Google News)

Hearing held Thursday, January 12, 2017 (Closed hearing also held)

In Senate spotlight, outspoken Kansas congressman becomes measured U.S spy chief

Pompeo expressed independence from Trump
Pompeo assures Democrats he'll stand up to Trump on torture, Russia CIA director nominee Mike Pompeo promised senators on Thursday that he would not bring back enhanced interrogation techniques widely regarded as torture, even if President-elect Trump ordered him to. Pompeo similarly promised he would pursue the truth on Russian meddling in U.S. politics and present whatever facts he found to the president. Throughout his confirmation hearings Thursday, Pompeo, a Republican congressman from Kansas, sought to reassure Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would be a mainstream CIA director who would act within the law and follow the evidence wherever it leads him.
Pompeo vows to set aside politics as CIA chief

Rick Perry — Secretary of Energy (Google News)

Hearing scheduled for Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rick Perry cuts industry ties ahead of confirmation hearings

How will Rick Perry run the Department of Energy?
In mid-December, President-elect Donald Trump announced he would name former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to head the Department of Energy, a seemingly ironic choice, since Perry once proposed shuttering the entire agency.

Atomic Arsenal Costs Ballooning by Billions of Dollars

Wilbur Ross — Secretary of Commerce (Google News)

Hearing scheduled for Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Confirmation hearing for Commerce nominee Wilbur Ross delayed
The Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday evening announced it has postponed the confirmation hearing for President-elect Trump's Commerce secretary nominee, Wilbur Ross, to Jan. 18. Ross had been scheduled to appear before the Senate committee Thursday, but it was pushed back six days because Ross did not submit a disclosure form to the Office of Government Ethics in time, according to a joint statement by Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., and ranking Democrat Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

Trump's Commerce pick Wilbur Ross is no stranger to protectionism
When billionaire investor Wilbur Ross salvaged two North Carolina textile mills from bankruptcy in 2003 and 2004, one of the first things he did was head to Washington to immerse himself in trade law and policy.

Elaine Chao — Secretary of Transportation (Google News)

Hearing held Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chao Drives Toward Quick Confirmation

Transportation pick Chao sails through Senate hearing

Rep. Tom Price — Secretary of Health and Human Services (Google News)

Hearing scheduled for Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Senate panel to mull Tom Price’s Cabinet nomination on Jan. 18
(The) first of two confirmation hearings for Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price will come just two days before Donald Trump is set to be sworn in as president.

Drug Stock Trades of Trump Health Secretary Pick Draw Criticism

Top House Dem calls for SEC probe into Trump's Health secretary pick

While Senate Democrats Attack Trump’s HHS Pick Over Health Care Stock, These Democrats Hold It Too

Tom Price says he'll sell stocks if confirmed as HHS chief

HHS Nominee Might Not Be Confirmed Until Mid-February, Says Senator
President-elect Donald Trump said at a news conference Wednesday in New York City that a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would come once Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Rep. Tom Price of Georgia wins confirmation.

Seema Verma — Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Google News)

Trump picks Seema Verma to head Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Rep. Ryan Zinke — Secretary of the Interior (Google News)

Hearing schedule for Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Zinke confirmation hearing scheduled for next Tuesday

Daines meets Zinke with long wishlist for next Interior secretary

Betsy DeVos — Secretary of Education (Google News)

Hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Barbara Bush: DeVos should be confirmed secretary of education
I am enthusiastically endorsing Betsy DeVos to be our next secretary of education. Mrs. DeVos has a real compassion for children and a proven record of championing reforms to improve literacy and learning in our nation. I am confident that she will provide the leadership we sorely need to raise the bar on education in America and provide better opportunities for our most vulnerable students.

Delays in paperwork postponed hearing for Trump Education pick: report

DeVos confirmation hearing delayed

DeVos Hearing Postponed Until Next Week

Democrats Who Will Scrutinize Trump’s Education Pick Attended Private Schools

Dr. Ben Carson — Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Google News)

Hearing held Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ben Carson’s Prescription: Get People Off Government Assistance

Carson poised to clear Senate panel with GOP-pleasing agenda
Ben Carson appears poised to clear the Senate Banking Committee and head toward confirmation after laying out a conservative agenda for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but also winning praise from some Democrats.

Journalists spread out of context Ben Carson quote

Ben Carson doubles down: LGBT don’t get ‘extra rights’
Dr. Ben Carson reiterated at his confirmation hearing Thursday that individuals identifying as LGBT shouldn’t get special rights. All Americans deserve protection under the law, Carson said, but no one is entitled to “extra rights.”

Andrew Puzder — Secretary of Labor (Google News)

No specific date for a hearing on his nomination yet. Possibly not until February.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney — OMB Director (Google News)

Jay Clayton — SEC Chairman (Google News)

Linda McMahon — Small Business Administration Administrator (Google News)

Scott Pruitt — Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (Google News)

Jeb Bush: Scott Pruitt is ready to turn around the EPA
When Scott Pruitt and I assembled a Restoring Federalism Task Force last year, he headlined the plan: "Putting Washington In Its Place." Those five words sum up exactly what the American people were clamoring for in this election: a dramatic shift of power out of a broken Washington and back into the hands of the people.
Senate Dems raise new conflict-of-interest charges against Pruitt
Democrats on the environment committee on Thursday asked the independent Office of Government Ethics for more information about the Republican Attorneys General Association, which he led for two years during a time when the GOP stepped up its use of the courts to undercut President Barack Obama's regulatory agenda. Their letter made clear that Democrats believe his relationship with the association could undercut his ethics agreement.

Robert Lighthizer — U.S. Trade Representative (Google News)

Trump Taps China Critic Lighthizer for U.S. Trade Representative

Gov. Nikki Haley — UN Ambassador (Google News)

Hearing scheduled for Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gov. Nikki Haley Gives Final State Address Before Heading to Trump Administration

Other Nomination News

U.S. Senate hearings delayed for three wealthy Trump nominees
The U.S. Senate has postponed confirmation hearings for three nominees to serve in President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet, all wealthy people with wide-ranging potential conflicts of interest, including billionaire Wilbur Ross for Commerce secretary. The Senate Commerce Committee said on Tuesday it was moving Ross's hearing to Jan. 18 from Jan. 12 because Ross has not completed all of the necessary government paperwork. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee delayed a hearing for Betsy DeVos, the billionaire Republican donor tapped for Education secretary, to Jan. 17 from Jan. 11. The committee's Republican majority said on Twitter on Monday that it had moved DeVos's hearing at the request of Senate leadership to accommodate its schedule. The same panel had tentatively slated a confirmation hearing for fast-food executive Andy Puzder, Trump's selection for Labor secretary, for Jan. 17. With DeVos's hearing moved to that date, the committee said it had no specific date selected for Puzder’s hearing and may not hold it until February.

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