Senate gets ugly
Capitol Hill’s “upper chamber” sells itself as the genteel, “grown-up” branch of the legislature. And it was until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow travelers decided to sabotage President Obama just over eight years ago. And now, the internecine anger and recriminations are showing in a quite public way:
amid controversial directives from the White House, Democratic opposition to President Trump’s political appointees and protests around the country.
Democrats on Tuesday slowed the pace of confirming Trump’s Cabinet nominees to a crawl, outraging Republicans, who accused them of unprecedented obstruction. The tactical move triggered a leading Republican to label Democrats “idiots.” Meanwhile, a liberal Democrat accused one of Trump’s Cabinet picks of lying to the Senate.
And the Supreme Court battle hasn’t really gotten started yet.
Democrats boycotted a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee, preventing scheduled votes on Trump’s picks to head the Treasury and Health and Human Services departments. They also filibustered a vote on Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), nominated for attorney general, in the Judiciary Committee, forcing Republicans to adjourn the meeting without action.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats for intentionally causing “chaos” and called their behavior “foolish.”
“They’re manufacturing issues on a daily basis to drag this process out and to treat this president’s initial Cabinet appointments differently from the way we’ve treated presidents of the Democratic Party in similar circumstances,” McConnell fumed at an afternoon press conference.
McConnell said Republicans were not enthusiastic about President Obama’s Cabinet picks in 2009 “but we did not prevent him from getting up and functioning.”
“Totally different treatment by the Senate majority at the beginning of Obama from what we’re experiencing here,” he said.
On his first day in office, six of Obama’s Cabinet nominees were confirmed.
As of Tuesday afternoon, senators had confirmed only three Trump Cabinet members: James Mattis as secretary of Defense, John Kelly as secretary of Homeland Security and Elaine Chao as secretary of Transportation.