Democrats Boycott Confirmation Votes on Tom Price and Steven Mnuchin

Sen. Hatch: ‘This is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in my whole time in the United States Senate’

Tom Price, Steven Mnuchin
Tom Price, Steven Mnuchin / AP
January 31, 2017

Democrats boycotted voting on the confirmations of Tom Price for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and Steven Mnuchin for secretary of the Treasury.

The Senate Finance Committee was scheduled to markup the vote on the nomination of Steven Mnuchin Monday night, but the vote was delayed. The committee was scheduled to meet again at 10 a.m. to vote on Tom Price's confirmation, but Democrats did not show up.

"I'm really disappointed that my friends on the other side, our Democrats on the other side, are deliberately boycotting this markup," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), who chairs the committee.

Sen. Hatch said that the two nominees would be confirmed regardless of how Democrats planned to vote and that they had ample time to ask every question they wanted to ask.

"I'm very disappointed in this type of crap," Hatch said. "There's no excuse for it."

"This is the most pathetic thing I've seen in my whole time in the United States Senate," he said. "We've had hearings, we've had these people appear, they’ve gone to their offices, they’ve talked with them there, we kept the hearings going as long as they wanted them to go." Hatch continued: "After the stunt that was pulled last night you would think they would be embarrassed not to come. I'm hopeful that when we schedule this again they're going to be here."

Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) echoed Hatch's statements, noting that Republicans never treated former President Obama's nominees in this manner. "I share your dismay and disgust, frankly, that our colleagues on the other side are now devolving to an unprecedented level of rank partisan obstructionism," Toomey said. "That is completely inappropriate."

"We have now already reached the longest period of time that the American people have not had a Treasury secretary I think in the history of the republic," he said.

Democrats have grilled both Mnuchin and Price in confirmation hearings on their investments, saying both nominees had a conflict of interest.

Steven Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs executive, came under fire as Democrats claimed he may have used offshore hedge funds to avoid paying taxes. Similarly, Democrats expressed concerns that Tom Price traded shares in pharmaceutical companies while simultaneously pushing for legislation that could affect the companies' stock prices.

Mnuchin assured lawmakers that he paid all of his taxes and would work with the IRS as Treasury secretary to ensure that all taxes are collected. Price also pushed back against critics, saying that he bought shares at market price and that he did not have any nonpublic information about the company.