When Democratic Senators boycotted President Trump’s Cabinet nominees, Senate Republicans suspended voting rules for Cabinet nominees.
President Trump’s nominees — Steve Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga) for Department of Health and Human Services Secretary — were awaiting the Senate’s decision. Normally, the Senate’s Finance Committee requires at least one Democratic Senator present to vote. However, when Democrats did not attend the meeting for two days, the chairman suspended the rules.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the committee chairman, said he based the decision on “extraordinary circumstances.”
“They, on their own accord, refused to participate in the exercise,” Hatch said. “They have nobody to blame but themselves.”
Democrats on the committee boycotted the voting due to serious concerns about Price and Mnuchin. Boycotting senators claim that both nominees misrepresented themselves in their testimonies. Before the voting rules were suspended, the Democrats asked Hatch to request the nominees clarify information regarding their past investments and actions.
The information in question includes Price’s stock trades and Mnuchin’s company foreclosure practices. Boycotters explained that Price had discounted and privileged stock access. Mnuchin illegally took part in ‘robo-signing,’ the mass production of forged legal documents.
Despite this request, Hatch suddenly called the meeting to move the nominees forward at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 1. Additionally, Hatch planned the meeting without communication to Sen. Ron Wyden, the committee’s top Democrat. When asked about the little notice of the meeting, Hatch said the public scrambling to attend the meeting was “neither here nor there.”
Wyden said the rule suspension and lack of communication to the Democrats is “deeply troubling.” This is the first time in history the Senate Finance Committee broke rules to push through nominees.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Democrats are going to keep fighting back.
“We are going to stand with people across the country,” she said. “We will keep pushing Republicans to put country above party and stand with us.”
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