“Grow up,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tells Democrats looking to hold up Donald Trump’s cabinet confirmation hearings.
Democrats, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer, are pushing to defer the confirmation committee meetings this week of a number of Trump’s nominees until they hand in financial disclosure reports to sort out any possible conflicts of interest.
McConnell considers Schumer’s delaying efforts as sore loser gripes.
Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation”, McConnell said, “All of these little procedural complaints are related to their frustration at having not only lost the White House but having lost the Senate. I understand that but we need to sort of grow up here and get past that.”
According to a Senate aide, many of Trump nominees are still lacking paperwork, including Homeland Security Secretary nominee retired General John Kelly, Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, and Housing and Urban Development choice Dr. Ben Carson.
Kelly’s committee confirmation hearing is slated on Tuesday, DeVos’ on Wednesday, and Carson’s and Ross’ on Thursday. Democrats require access to all the paperwork prior to grilling the nominees.
On Sunday, McConnell pledged to make sure all the documents will be prepared once nominees pass out of the committees and ahead of the final voting of the full senate.
“The real thing is the vote on the floor. And we want to have all the records in– all the papers completed before they’re actually confirmed on the Senate floor,” McConnell said.
Schumer blamed Republicans of attempting to “ram” through nominees without all the required ethics agreements and background checks in place.
In a statement Sunday, Schumer said, “Until these nominees have fully cooperated with the ethics review process, the hearings and confirmation schedule should not be rushed.”
The director of the independent Office of Government Ethics mentioned “great concern” regarding arranging confirmation hearings prior to nominees being properly “precleared.”
In a letter responding to Democratic senators, Walter M. Shaub, Jr. wrote: “The announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me. This schedule has created undue pressure on OGE’s staff and agency ethics officials to rush through these important reviews. More significantly, it has left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues shortly before their scheduled hearings.
Shaub concluded that he is unaware of any instance in the four decades since OGE was founded when the Senate conducted a confirmation hearing before the nominee had accomplished the ethics review process.
For confirmation, Trump’s cabinet picks will need a simple majority. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate, making Democratic efforts to thwart certain Trump nominees an uphill climb.
On the need for urgency, McConnell said, “We need to have the president’s national security team in place on Day One, and papers are still coming in. And so I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to get up to seven nominees on Day One, just like we did eight years ago.”