Senate Democrats hit upon what they thought was a clever idea to slow down President Donald Trump cabinet picks. Senate rules state that for committee votes to proceed at least one senator from the opposing party must be present. With that is mind, senate Democrats boycotted meetings of the Senate Finance Committee to prevent confirmation votes for Rep. Tom #price for Health and Human Services secretary and Steven Mnuchin for Treasury secretary. Led by committee chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Republicans on the Finance Committee voted to suspend the quorum rule and voted to recommend Price and Mnuchin for confirmation anyway. Both are expected to be approved by the full Senate.
Naturally senate Democrats are not pleased. They claimed they needed more time to examine Price and Mnuchin. According to Politico, “they wanted more information on Price's privileged and discounted access to stocks and answers from Mnuchin on "robo-signing" and foreclosures by the bank he once led, OneWest.”
Republicans, including Chairman Hatch, were having none of it. They countered that Democrats were being obstructionist, gumming up the works to slow down the confirmation of almost all Trump nominees for the sake of obstruction. The perception of Democratic obstruction was the reason why the Republicans cut the gordian knot and voted to confirm Price and Mnuchin.
A number of other Trump cabinet level nominees are being obstructed by Democrats using similar tactics. Look for Republican senators on other committees to follow the lead of the Finance Committee to pass the nominees to the full senate if it proves necessary.
All of these political games are just warm-up acts for the main event, the epic battle over the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch. Democrats are already practicing their sound bites about how evil Gorsuch is and how his seat was in some way “stolen” from Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland. Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings on Garland on the theory that no outgoing president should choose a Supreme Court justice during the last year of his presidency. Democrats were enraged at the maneuver and are now opposing Gorsuch out of the need for revenge.