CHN: Hearings Begin on President-elect Trump’s Cabinet Picks

The confirmation hearing for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), President-elect Trump’s nominee to be Attorney General, took place in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 10 and Wednesday, Jan. 11. Advocates can watch a recording of the first day and second day of the hearing. CHN joined many advocacy groups in sending a letter to the heads of the Judiciary Committee opposing his nomination. 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, his “long record of obstructing civil rights,” and his “established pattern of bigotry.” The National Council of La Raza 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.”

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing on Jan. 12 for Dr. Ben Carson, President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. During his testimony, Dr. Carson reiterated the President-Elect’s call to cut nondefense discretionary spending (spending subject to the annual appropriations process) by 1 percent annually. The National Low Income Housing Coalition noted in a statement that this “could amount to cuts as deep as 30 percent by 2026, devastating housing programs for the lowest income people.” They also compiled the top 10 questions for the committee to ask Dr. Carson. Advocates can watch a recording of the hearing here and read Dr. Carson’s written testimony here.

The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, was postponed from Jan. 11 to Jan. 17 in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The National Education Association released a statement opposing the nomination of DeVos.

The Senate HELP Committee will also hold a confirmation hearing for Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Trump’s pick to head the Departments of Health and Human Services, on Jan. 18. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Rep. Price after that; the Finance Committee has the primary responsibility for this department’s nomination, since it has jurisdiction over taxes and entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Families USA noted that “As a member of the House of Representatives, Price has advanced proposals that would substantially undermine Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance and dramatically reduce consumer access, coverage, and financial security putting the health and lives of millions in jeopardy.”

The confirmation hearing for Andrew Puzder, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, which was initially tentatively scheduled for Jan. 17, was postponed until February. This hearing will also take place in the Senate HELP Committee. Two events featuring workers at CKE Restaurants, where Puzder currently serves as CEO, were held on Jan. 10 and were covered on CHN’s blog. Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United also released a report on Jan. 10 detailing wage and hour violations, health and safety violations, discrimination, unfair treatment and sexual harassment at CKE Restaurants. The National Employment Law Project said in a statement that, “it’s hard to think of anyone less suited for the job of lifting up America’s forgotten workers — as Trump had campaigned on — than Puzder.” The National Women’s Law Center said Puzder “would have a devastating impact on women in the workplace.” CHN has also sent a letter to the HELP Committee opposing Puzder’s nomination. Faced with the barrage of criticism, Puzder was reported by CNN to be having second thoughts, although he did later tweet that he is looking forward to his hearing.

President-elect Trump has nominated Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, Mulvaney would play a key role in repealing regulations implemented by the Obama Administration (see the article, Rules and Regulations under Threat, in this issue); OMB oversees agency regulatory reform and its approval is needed for most regulations issued by agencies. A deficit hawk, Rep. Mulvaney is a co-founder of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus and has introduced a number of bills aimed at cutting government spending, especially Medicare and Social Security. A confirmation hearing for Rep. Mulvaney has not yet been publicized.

All nominees to the cabinet have to be confirmed by a simple majority of the Senate.

For information on President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominees, see CHN’s page on the Trump Administration. To see what to expect in policy changes from the Trump Administration and the new Congress in 2017, see the December 6 Human Needs Report, our Washington 2017 resource webpage, and The New Congress: How it Plans to Cut…And How to Fight Back, a webinar originally held on December 16.

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