Senate Democrats can’t block President Trump’s Cabinet nominees on their own without a majority. But they can hold up the process in other ways — and that’s what Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee are doing today by refusing to show up to committee votes on Rep. Tom Price, the nominee for health and human services secretary, and Steve Mnunchin, the nominee for Treasury secretary.
Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the committee, says that ethics concerns about both nominees are driving the boycott:
Today @SenateFinance Democrats refused to move forward with nominations of Mnuchin & Price.— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) January 31, 2017
Mr. Mnuchin continued to fail to come clean on shady foreclosure practices that hurt Americans.— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) January 31, 2017
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that it appears Price wasn’t fully honest with Congress about a sweetheart stock deal he got from an Australian biotech company: Price said the deal was available to every investor who already had put money into the company, but it turns out only about 20 people were offered the discount.
More broadly, Senate Democrats seem to have awakened to the fact that many energized liberal voters who have been showing up to protests and calling their representatives want to see more resistance to Trump and to his agenda — and if they can’t do that by filibustering nominees, they’re going to do so with boycotts.
It’s an unusual tactic but not an unprecedented one. Both parties have boycotted committee votes — which are required before a nominee can be confirmed by the full Senate — in the past:
Reminder: GOP boycotted EPA nom vote 4 yrs ago. They got the idea from Dems some years before that. NOT unprecedented.— Erica Martinson (@EricaMartinson) January 31, 2017