Trump Cabinet choices face second week of Senate hearings

Credit: Jamie Dupree

Credit: Jamie Dupree

The Senate on Tuesday begins a second round of confirmation hearings on President-Elect Donald Trump's administration, as Democrats will again try to knock one of those nominees off stride, just days before Mr. Trump takes the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States.

If you are looking for one nominee who might attract the most attention this week from Senate Democrats, that could be Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), the President-Elect's choice for health secretary.

Price has been under fire over reports that he traded in health stocks at about the same time that he was introducing bills in Congress dealing with health-related matters.

"Rep. Price actively traded in health-related stocks while at the same time drafting and moving legislation forward that could affect those stocks' performance," said Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who vowed to press Price for more details.

Look for these stock trades to be a big issue at Wednesday's hearing for Price - along with his thoughts on how the Trump Administration should repeal and replace the Obama health law.

My rule of thumb from covering a new administration is that there always seems to be one Cabinet nominee who encounters more than just the usual amount of partisan flak; sometimes they can even get derailed, often dropping out before a vote is taken.

This week, six more Trump nominees face hearings in the next three days:

Tuesday January 17

+ Ryan Zinke, for Interior Secretary; 2:15 pm Senate Energy Committee

+ Betsy DeVos, for Education Secretary; 5:00 pm Senate Health committee

Wednesday January 18

+ Wilbur Ross, for Commerce Secretary; 10:00 am Senate Commerce Committee

+ Scott Pruitt, for EPA Administration; 10:00 am Senate Environment Committee

+ Nikki Haley, for United Nations Ambassador, 10 am Senate Foreign Relations

+ Tom Price, for HHS Secretary, 10:00 am, Senate Health committee

Thursday January 19

+ Rick Perry, for Secretary of Energy; 10:00 am Senate Energy

The first week of hearings in the Senate gave little hope to Democrats for a political scalp, as they were unable to dent Mr. Trump's choice for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), despite weeks of prep against him.

Smooth sailing is also expected for two other choices who had hearings last week - James Mattis as Secretary of Defense, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) as CIA Director.

As for Mr. Trump's pick for Secretary of State, the only mystery is whether Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) will oppose Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for that choice.

Hearings have still not been scheduled for several other picks of President-Elect Trump:

+ Steven Mnuchin - Secretary of Treasury

+ Andrew Puzder - Secretary of Labor

+ Linda McMahon - Small Business Administration

+ Mick Mulvaney - Office of Management and Budget

+ David Shulkin - Veterans Affairs

A lack of a hearing date for Shulkin is not a surprise, given that he was only chosen last week by Mr. Trump.

It is unclear how many of the Trump choices will be voted on quickly by the Senate; it is often standard procedure to quickly approve non-controversial nominees.

If you look back eight years ago at the start of the Obama Administration, the Senate confirmed seven nominees just hours after Mr. Obama gave his Inaugural Address in 2009:

January 20 - Ken Salazar - Interior

January 20 - Tom Vilsack - Agriculture

January 20 - Steven Chu - Energy

January 20 - Arne Duncan - Education

January 20 - Janet Napolitano - DHS

January 20 - Peter Orszag - OMB

January 20 - Eric Shinseki - VA

(Those seven were confirmed en bloc, by voice vote.)

Other initial major nominees of President Obama, and the date of their Senate confirmation in 2009:

January 21 - Hillary Clinton - Secretary of State

January 26 - Timothy Geithner - Treasury

February 2 - Eric Holder - Attorney General

February 24 - Hilda Solis - Labor

April 28 - Kathleen Sebelius - HHS

We'll see how the Trump Cabinet fares compared to that in the weeks ahead.