WASHINGTON – The ranking Democrats on each Senate committee are drawing battle lines for President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, listing a series of requirements for confirmations to proceed.
The senators are responding to a New York Times report that stated the vetting of financial disclosure statements for Trump’s nominees has been “unusually slow,” causing concern that the Republicans in charge of the chamber could allow confirmation hearings to move forward without the complete vetting by the Office of Government Ethics.
“The United States Senate has a rich, bipartisan tradition of vetting nominees to the President’s Cabinet,” the 16 ranking Democrats said in a statement provided to Roll Call. “We hope to continue that tradition with our colleagues in the Republican Majority because the American people are entitled to a fair and open consideration process for all executive nominations.”
They demanded that a confirmation only move forward if the nominee has cleared an FBI background check; has provided a complete financial disclosure and the Office of Government Ethics has signed off on an ethics agreement; and “has satisfied reasonable requests for additional information and members have time to review that material.”
The requirements relating to FBI background checks, financial disclosures and approval by the Office of Government Ethics are typical steps for Cabinet nominees before a hearing.
But Democrats are listing them publicly out of concern that the vetting will not be completed in time for the confirmation hearings, due to some of Trump’s nominees’ extensive wealth and financial portfolios. Some committees are already planning confirmation hearings for early January.
There has already been some back and forth in the Judiciary Committee, which will vet Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the nominee for attorney general. Incoming ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein has said Sessions provided incomplete information, and requested the Jan. 10 and 11 hearings be delayed. Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley denied the request.
Senate Republicans have been calling for swift confirmation for Trump’s nominees, arguing that Republicans cooperated with President Barack Obama’s nominees. Six of his Cabinet picks and the Office of Management and Budget director were confirmed on the day of Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.