Democrats face an uphill battle over Trump cabinet nominees this week, as they feel pressure from their base, while at the same time, being outnumbered by the opposing party in the Senate.
Today, former ExxonMobil Executive Rex Tillerson is likely to be advanced in the Senate hearings, as one of the GOP’s hold outs, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has said he will now support Tillerman. It seems unlikely that Democrats will be able to stop the Tillerman nomination.
On Tuesday, Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, is up for Attorney General. This may be the nominee Democrats will put up the fiercest battle over. Also on Tuesday, Rick Perry will be lined up for confirmation as Energy Secretary. Most believe that nomination will sail through, despite the fact he hasn’t been a big supporter of that department in the past.
Ryan Zinke will face some Democratic opposition over his nomination as head of the Department of Interior, but he will likely get through the process. Finally, Betsy DeVoss, who Trump nominated for Education Secretary, like Sessions, may face a cliffhanger-type of vote.
Making things more interesting, Trump is expected to make a decision on a Supreme Court nominee early this week. The pace at which things are happening in Washington have been dizzying. Yet, the Democrats are getting a lot of pressure from their base to put more pressure on Trump and his party.
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has called for his party to step up or face the consequences. “You are being left behind by your base,” Dean said.
Virginia Senator, and former running mate of Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, has said Democrats have been holding the nominee’s feet to the fire, and that most of the cabinets picks “are either unqualified or extreme or ethically challenged.”
Dan Pfeiffer, a long-time Obama aide, said Democrats need to oppose Trump’s nominees, period. “We can’t live in a world where Trump violates every norm and Democratic elected Officials support people like Sessions out of Courtesy.”
Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour raised the rhetoric higher, saying that any Democrat who voted for Sessions should expect to face a challenger in next year’s primaries.
Even Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has fallen under fire from supporters for her vote in favor of Ben Carson for Housing Secretary. Warren and other Dems say they can’t vote against every nominee, and Carson’s answers relieved some concerns when he promised to “strongly support” a reduction in homelessness.
History has stood on a president’s side regarding the confirmation of nominees in the Senate. Only nine nominees have failed to muster enough votes during the nominating process. Almost all of Obama’s nominees sailed through the 2009 confirmation hearings, and with the GOP holding the majority it will be difficult to reject any nominee without some help from the other side of the isle.
“We can be in fever pitch on everything,” Democratic Senator Brian Schatz said. Dems will need to pick the fights carefully. Jeff Sessions, it’s thought, will face the toughest opposition tomorrow, maybe his nomination will be the fight the Democrats choose.