Republicans advance Sessions, Mnuchin, Price to final vote after Dem delay

Senate Republicans, frustrated by Democrats’ attempts to delay key Cabinet confirmations, moved swiftly Wednesday morning to advance three nominees to a final vote.

On the most contentious nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to approve Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for U.S. attorney general.

The move came after Democrats dragged out proceedings a day earlier. The committee advanced Sessions to the floor on an 11-9 vote.

“No doubt we have the votes” to confirm Sessions, said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a committee member. “It’s going to get done.”

But Senate Democrats have attempted to hold up several of President Trump’s Cabinet picks over concerns about their records, as well as Trump’s new policies and recent executive orders on immigration.

The Republican-led Senate Finance Committee earlier sidestepped Senate Democrats’ efforts to slow Trump’s picks for secretaries of Treasury and Health and Human Services by boycotting the votes.

Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, suspended committee rules on the number of members required to vote, to allow Republican members to vote in favor of Steve Mnuchin as treasury secretary and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to serve as Health and Human Services secretary.

Mnuchin, Price and Sessions will almost certainly get the required simple majority needed for confirmation because Republicans have 52 senators and Democrats have 48.

On Tuesday, Democrats had refused to attend the meeting to consider Mnuchin and Price, demanding more information about the nominees.

Hatch called the Democrats’ decision to boycott the vote “the most pathetic thing.”

“We took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues,” he also said Wednesday.

The rule requires at least one Democrat be present for a vote. With the rules lifted, the committee advanced the nominations to the floor.

“They should be ashamed,” he said. “The only thing missing was a member from the minority side,” Hatch continued.  But, as I noted, they, on their own accord, refused to participate in this exercise.

Hatch said he made the move after getting an OK from the Senate Parliamentarian Office and that every Republican member of the committee was present and voting, exceeding the one-third requirement for a so-called “quorum.”