Democrats Threaten to Slow-Walk Confirmation Process for Trump’s Cabinet Picks

Previously called for quick confirmations for Obama's Cabinet

Chuck Schumer
Chuck Schumer / AP
• January 3, 2017 10:32 am


Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has said Democrats may try to slow down the confirmation process for President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet-level nominees if Republicans do not meet several of their demands.

Schumer recently told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) that Democrats will not go along with speedy confirmations unless he receives assurances on the timing and length of hearings and Trump's Cabinet choices disclose certain financial information, Politico reported last week.

The incoming minority leader raised the issue in a private letter to McConnell this month. Neither leader's office would comment directly on the letter given the sensitivity of the new relationship between the two party honchos.

But people familiar with the communications between the two leaders said Schumer is calling for McConnell to not schedule simultaneous confirmation hearings for Cabinet nominees, so that members on multiple committees can attend each confirmation hearing. That could make it difficult for all nominees to be ready for floor votes by Inauguration Day.

Democratic officials and senators said they are also looking for comprehensive financial disclosures from each nominee, time to review those disclosures, and completed reviews by the FBI and the Office of Government Ethics before confirmation hearings begin. Some of those demands were also included in Schumer’s letter to McConnell, sources said.

Schumer's spokesman, Matt House, said the process will not move forward until the the nominees have submitted their requested paperwork.

"If Republicans think we're going to quickly greenlight their nominees to fill up this rigged Cabinet without a thorough review, they have another thing coming," House said.

Schumer's strategy appears to go against what he and other Senate Democrats have said in the past on the confirmation process for Cabinet positions. The NTK Network on Tuesday compiled several examples of Democrats calling for a speedy confirmation process for Obama's nominees.

Schumer himself in 2009 called for Obama's then-Treasury Secretary nominee, Tim Geithner, to be confirmed "as quickly as possible" despite not paying all of his taxes.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) insisted in 2008 that Department of Justice nominees should be confirmed before Inauguration Day "for the good of the American people."

Former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd (D.) also praised the idea of holding nomination hearings before Inauguration Day, saying in 2008: "I don't think it's a bad precedent to be setting given the issues we are facing today, but also to allow an administration to get up and moving as quickly as possible."

More recently, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) said in 2015 that the Senate has always had the tradition of moving Cabinet nominations "as quickly as we possibly could" at a confirmation hearing for Attorney General Loretta Lynch.