CHN: The Trump Administration Takes Shape, but Cabinet Picks Worry Many Advocates
In the month since the historic 2016 presidential election, President-elect Trump has begun shaping his Administration and working with Republican leaders to outline the party’s priorities for the new Congress. One part of this process involves nominating members of President-elect Trump’s cabinet, including several nominees who are opposed by human needs advocates.
Many advocate groups have opposed the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be Attorney General. A press release from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (of which CHN is a member) cites Sen. Sessions’ hostility to voting rights during his time as U.S. Attorney and his “long record of obstructing civil rights.” They note that the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Sen. Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986 because of his “established pattern of bigotry.” The National Council of La Raza (a member of CHN) said in a statement that Sen. Sessions “has been a staunch opponent of progress for historically disenfranchised groups, whether it’s Blacks, Latinos, LGBT Americans, or women.”
Many advocates are also opposing President-elect Trump’s pick of House Budget Committee Chair Tom Price (R-GA) to be the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Price is an unwavering opponent of the Affordable Care Act and has authored legislation that could serve as a blueprint for Republicans’ replacement for the ACA. According to the Washington Post, Price is also a proponent of overhauling Medicare and Medicaid, ending their open-ended structures and reducing their funding and coverage. He favors turning Medicare into “premium support” payments or vouchers. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that Rep. Price’s budget plan released last spring would convert Medicaid into a block grant and repeal the ACA Medicaid expansion, likely leaving tens of millions of Americans uninsured or underinsured. MomsRising said in a statement that, “Price’s stated goal is to kick nearly 20 million Americans off health care coverage and force people with pre-existing conditions into an expensive and unnecessary fight for their lives, all of which hurts our economy and families.” Rep. Price has also proposed eliminating the Social Services Block Grant and the Head Start program in the past.
President-elect Trump also tapped Dr. Ben Carson to be the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The National Low Income Housing Coalition called Dr. Carson’s nomination “surprising and concerning, given his lack of experience with or knowledge of the programs he would oversee,” adding, “The little that we do know about Dr. Carson’s position on affordable housing is a reason for concern.”
The National Education Association (a member of CHN) released a statement opposing the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, saying DeVos, as a strong proponent of school vouchers “supports failed education policies that hurt students.” The National Council of Jewish Women (a member of CHN) opposed the appointment of Stephen Bannon to the non-cabinet position of chief strategist, saying in a release that Bannon “roused a large portion of Trump’s base with a hateful mix of conspiracy theories, bigotry, misogyny, racism and homophobia.”
President-elect Trump has also nominated Elaine Chao, former Labor Secretary under President George W. Bush and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to be Secretary of Transportation, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for the position of U.N. Ambassador, former Goldman Sachs executive and current hedge fund CEO Steve Mnuchin to be Treasury Secretary, and Wilbur Ross to be Commerce Secretary. Mnuchin recently promised “the largest tax change since Reagan” if confirmed, referring to huge tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy enacted under President Reagan in 1986. All nominees to the cabinet have to be confirmed by a simple majority of the Senate.