In what may or may not be indicative of the ultimate fate of Congressional opposition to the advance of President Trump’s agenda for the next four years, Senate Republicans have pulled an unprecedented move to force along the confirmation process for some of Trump’s controversial Cabinet picks.
On Tuesday, Democrats boycotted the committee vote stage of the confirmation hearings for both Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price.
Opposition leaders claimed that neither individual had been properly vetted as to their conflicts of interest before taking office. In Price’s case, he has been found to have had a significant stake in a biomedical corporation that had given him special treatment because of Price’s Congressional seat. He was not truthful about his stock in that company while being questioned about it by the Senate.
In Mnuchin’s case, he’s about as shady of a financier as they come. The former Goldman Sachs exec has his fingers in everything from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal to some of the most scandalous parts of the reverse mortgage industry that haphazardly tread the line between what’s legal and what’s illegal.
Mnuchin was one of the executives at the now effectively defunct OneWest Bank, which was the financial institution behind a whopping almost 40 percent of the country’s reverse mortgage fueled foreclosures since 2009.
OneWest/ Mnuchin has been hit with investigation after investigation into these foreclosures, since their “aggressive” collection strategies have left many borrowers’ rights violated. For example, in one highly publicized case, OneWest foreclosed on an elderly woman in Florida over an error in her mortgage payments of less than one dollar.
Democrats’ boycott of the Tuesday votes on Price and Mnuchin forced them to grind to a halt and not proceed, since rules normally require at least one member of each party to be present for work to proceed.
However, who in the Republican Party has ever heard of rules? With Republicans in control of the Senate, Republicans are concurrently in control of the Senate committee that were having the votes on Tuesday that were forced to a halt by Democrats’ abstention.
Thus, Republican leadership simply imposed a temporary suspension of the rules in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday morning and went full speed ahead with confirmation votes for Price and Mnuchin, thus catapulting both nominees forward toward the final stage of confirmation, the full Senate vote.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Utah’s Orrin Hatch, commented of the Democrats’ boycotts that prompted his move, “It’s just another way of roughing up the president’s nominees. They have been treated fairly. We have not been treated fairly.”
Hatch and the Senate Finance Committee’s move comes after President Trump himself flew into a rage over the concurrent Senate efforts to slow down the confirmation process for his Attorney General pick, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions. Trump was triggered by the assertion of the interim/ acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, that the Department of Justice, under her watch, would not defend Trump’s Muslim ban.
So Trump fired her.
Featured Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images.