Senate begins confirmation hearings for Trump cabinet nominees

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

With just ten days to go until Donald Trump takes the oath of office becoming the President of the United States, the Senate is beginning confirmation hearings for Trump’s cabinet nominees. So far, the Senate scheduled confirmation hearings for eight of the cabinet’s most important positions and began the process on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 on Capitol Hill. Democrats are promising to give Trump’s nominees a difficult time in the hot seat, many of the president-elect’s nominees have not submitted financial documents to Office of Governmental Ethics their review; Trump’s cabinet is expected to have the greatest net worth of any previous presidential cabinet. None of the nominees can be confirmed until Trump takes office.

As ABC News notes all cabinet level position, leading a government agency need to be confirmed by the Senate. They include the following posts: “the secretaries of agriculture, commerce, defense, education, energy, health and human services, homeland security, housing and urban development, interior, labor, state, transportation, treasury, and veterans affairs, as well as the attorney general, director of the Office of Management and Budget, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. trade representative, ambassador to the United Nations, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and administrator of the Small Business Administration.”

In total 1,212 “senior posts and agency heads” need to be confirmed by the Senate after a “background check” is complete. A lengthy indeed, so much so that the trump transition is downplaying the need for background checks in an attempt to move along the confirmation process in the Republican-controlled Senate. Only advisors to the president and the White House chief of staff are exempt from the arduous process.

ABC News explained the confirmation process; nominees go through extreme vetting by the president’s team and the FBI submitting “financial disclosure reports, criminal checks and questionnaires about ties to foreign governments.” Then the appropriate Senate committee conducts the hearing for the nominee then they vote to determine if the entire Senate will vote to confirm the nominee if so it goes to the Senate floor. Since the Democrats opted for the nuclear option, confirmations only require a “simple majority” vote of 51 senators, and they can no longer be filibustered or require 60 votes.

The following is the schedule for the Senate confirmation hearings:

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions — Jan. 10–11, 9:30 a.m.
Homeland Security: John Kelly — Jan. 10, 3:30 p.m.
Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson — Jan. 11–12, 9 a.m., 10 a.m.
CIA Director: Mike Pompeo — Jan. 11, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao — Jan. 11, 10:15 a.m.
Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross — Jan. 12, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Housing: Ben Carson, Jan. 12, 10 a.m.
Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos — Jan. 17, 5 p.m.
Secretary of Labor: Andy Puzder — Jan. 17 (tentative)
U.N. Ambassador: Nikki Haley — Jan. 18 (tentative)

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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