January 31, 2017

Whitehouse Slams Republicans for Undermining Norms of the Senate by Jamming Through Trump Nominees

Washington, DC – Today, Senate Republicans attempted to advance several nominations out of committee for full Senate consideration despite unanswered questions about their records.  These included: Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, who has not answered questions from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and HELP Committee Democrats about her conflicts of interest; Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin, who has provided the Finance Committee misleading answers about foreclosure practices under his leadership at OneWest Bank; and Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price, who continues to face questions about private trading on health care stocks.  Whitehouse and Senate Democrats used a variety of procedural tools to extend consideration of these nominees, and Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions. 

Reacting to events, Whitehouse issued the following statement:

“With each day of his Administration, President Trump has shown us new ways to disregard the Constitution and the basic norms that both parties must respect for our democracy to work.  It has become increasingly clear that Senate Republicans won’t yet check him.   The President’s nominees have refused to answer basic questions about their fitness to serve and won’t come clean about conflicts of interest they may bring to their positions.  Stacking and jamming these nominees through is a dark day for the Senate.  There will come a time, very soon I fear, that Republicans and Democrats need to work together to keep the excesses of this President in check.  I hope my colleagues do not irrevocably undermine our ability to do so.”

Whitehouse and HELP Committee Democrats attempted to extend debate on DeVos, forcing Chairman Lamar Alexander to establish a new, and troubling, committee precedent to cut off debate in order to report out her nomination. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee refused to provide a quorum to allow votes on Mnuchin and Price.  Whitehouse and Judiciary Committee Democrats used the “two-hour rule” to prevent that committee from reporting the nomination of Jeff Sessions following the President’s sacking of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates last night.  Whitehouse will speak on the Sessions nomination in the Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning. 

Tomorrow, the Environment and Public Works Committee is scheduled to vote on Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Whitehouse and Committee Democrats have asked for a delay of that markup until the nominee provides information about his wide-ranging conflicts of interest with the fossil fuel industry, but that request has been rejected.


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