Politics January 10, 2017: Senate begins confirmation hearings for Trump cabinet nominees

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POLITICS

Senate begins confirmation hearings for Trump cabinet nominees

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

With just ten days to go until Donald Trump takes the oath of office becoming the President of the United States, the Senate is beginning confirmation hearings for Trump’s cabinet nominees. So far, the Senate scheduled confirmation hearings for eight of the cabinet’s most important positions and began the process on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 on Capitol Hill. Democrats are promising to give Trump’s nominees a difficult time in the hot seat, many of the president-elect’s nominees have not submitted financial documents to Office of Governmental Ethics their review; Trump’s cabinet is expected to have the greatest net worth of any previous presidential cabinet. None of the nominees can be confirmed until Trump takes office.

As ABC News notes all cabinet level position, leading a government agency need to be confirmed by the Senate. They include the following posts: “the secretaries of agriculture, commerce, defense, education, energy, health and human services, homeland security, housing and urban development, interior, labor, state, transportation, treasury, and veterans affairs, as well as the attorney general, director of the Office of Management and Budget, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. trade representative, ambassador to the United Nations, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and administrator of the Small Business Administration.”

In total 1,212 “senior posts and agency heads” need to be confirmed by the Senate after a “background check” is complete. A lengthy indeed, so much so that the trump transition is downplaying the need for background checks in an attempt to move along the confirmation process in the Republican-controlled Senate. Only advisors to the president and the White House chief of staff are exempt from the arduous process.

ABC News explained the confirmation process; nominees go through extreme vetting by the president’s team and the FBI submitting “financial disclosure reports, criminal checks and questionnaires about ties to foreign governments.” Then the appropriate Senate committee conducts the hearing for the nominee then they vote to determine if the entire Senate will vote to confirm the nominee if so it goes to the Senate floor. Since the Democrats opted for the nuclear option, confirmations only require a “simple majority” vote of 51 senators, and they can no longer be filibustered or require 60 votes.

The following is the schedule for the Senate confirmation hearings:

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions — Jan. 10–11, 9:30 a.m.
Homeland Security: John Kelly — Jan. 10, 3:30 p.m.
Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson — Jan. 11–12, 9 a.m., 10 a.m.
CIA Director: Mike Pompeo — Jan. 11, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao — Jan. 11, 10:15 a.m.
Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross — Jan. 12, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Housing: Ben Carson, Jan. 12, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos — Jan. 17, 5 p.m.
Secretary of Labor: Andy Puzder — Jan. 17 (tentative)
U.N. Ambassador: Nikki Haley — Jan. 18 (tentative)

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Politics January 10, 2017: 2016 election is over as Congress certifies Trump’s Electoral College win

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POLITICS

2016 election is over as Congress certifies Trump’s Electoral College win

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Finally, what seemed like the longest and nastiest presidential election in American history is over. On Friday, January 6, 2017, Congress in a joint session certified the Electoral College votes the elected Republican Donald Trump president. Like the campaign, the certification process did not complete without Democrats trying to mount a last minute effort to prevent Trump from becoming president, actions, that Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the count shutdown.

In a process that took an hour, Trump was certified with 304 Electoral Votes rather than 306 with two Texas faithless electors voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the other for former Sen. Ron Paul. Democrat Hillary Clinton ended up with 227 Electoral votes as opposed to the 232 she was supposed to receive after the election returns were counted surprisingly five electors defected from Clinton. According to ABC News Online the “FINAL CERTIFIED TALLY: Donald Trump — 304, Hillary Clinton — 227, Colin Powell — 3, John Kasich — 1, Ron Paul — 1, Bernie Sanders — 1, Faith Spotted Eagle — 1.”

The certification did not go off smoothly as some Democratic representatives from “various states” protested during the process, but they needed a Democratic senator to join their cause in writing, and none wanted to make a “formal complaint.” According to The Hill, the representatives that objected to the Electoral Votes include “Freshman Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin (Md.) and Pramila Jayapal (Wash.)” and “Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).”

Instead, the representatives just interrupted and annoyed Biden who had to chastise them repeatedly, and according to CNN, they interrupted the Vice President 11 times. Biden scolded them a few times, “There is no debate. There is no debate.” Biden told Rep. Jayapal, “There is no debate, and if it’s not signed by a senator the objection cannot be entertained.”ABC News recounted that he banged the gavel several times to stop one representative from speaking.

The Vice President also gave them a reality check telling the representatives “It is over.” According to the Hill, Biden’s declaration prompted “cheers” from the Republicans who mostly occupied the chamber and even made Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) “laugh.” Thankfully, it is all over after the rollercoaster ride that was the 2016 presidential election.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.