Senate confirms first nominees of Trump era
© Greg Nash

The Senate voted to confirm President Trump’s first Cabinet nominees on Friday hours after he was sworn into office.

In a 98-1 vote, the Senate confirmed retired Gen. James Mattis to be Defense secretary.

Immediately after that vote, the Senate confirmed retired Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security by a vote of 88-11.

Neither vote was controversial; both Mattis and Kelly had sailed through their confirmation hearings earlier this month.

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Senators were also familiar with both men, who previously served in the Obama administration. Mattis ran U.S. Central Command while Kelly oversaw the U.S. Southern Command.

The consensus surrounding the two men belied tensions over other nominees.

Republicans signaled as late as Friday afternoon that they still wanted to confirm seven Trump nominees on Friday — the same number President Obama got on the day of his 2009 inauguration.

Instead, Trump got the fewest number of nominees cleared through the Senate on “day one” of his administration in nearly 30 years, according to The Washington Post.

Republicans wanted to confirm Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) to be CIA director, arguing Democrats’ push to delay him until Monday was a threat to national security.

“I would hope the feeling around here would be at least on day one to have some level of cooperation,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.) said. “We should work in the same spirit with the current administration and put the rest of President Trump’s team in place as soon as possible.”

Ahead of Friday’s votes, Republicans lined up on the Senate to blast Democrats.

A small group of Democrats — led by Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax CEO faces outraged lawmakers | Dem presses voting machine makers on cyber defense | Yahoo says 3 billion accounts affected by 2013 breach MORE (Ore.) — want to hold off voting on Pompeo until Monday, noting a president has never gotten a CIA director confirmed on the first day of his administration.

“The importance of the position of CIA Director, especially in these dangerous times, demands that the nomination be thoroughly vetted, questioned and debated,” Wyden and Democratic Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Regulation: Massachusetts AG sues Equifax | Trump weighs easing rules on gun exports | EPA nominee to fight worker safety rule in court Trump to ease rules on gun exports: report Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (Vt.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) said in a joint statement.

They added that the Senate shouldn’t be a “rubber stamp” for the Trump administration.

Republicans initially signaled they were willing to play hardball to get Pompeo confirmed on Friday potentially keeping the Senate in for a late night.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGun proposal picks up GOP support House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration MORE (R-Texas), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, kicked off speculation of weekend work, arguing that Democrats were exhibiting “poor sportsmanship.”

Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerGOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers Whatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong Breitbart charts path for 2018 midterm races MORE (R-Miss.) said Republicans were willing to skip inaugural celebrations to stay in the Senate to confirm Pompeo.

“We’ll be grownups. This is going to work itself out,” he told reporters. “The night is young. I don’t like inaugural balls anyway.”

But ultimately lawmakers agreed to hold a final vote on Pompeo on Monday after six hours of debate.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said Friday that GOP leaders had also hoped to vote to confirm Ben Carson, Trump's pick to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Nikki Haley, his pick for United Nations ambassador.

Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax CEO faces outraged lawmakers | Dem presses voting machine makers on cyber defense | Yahoo says 3 billion accounts affected by 2013 breach Key Dem: Did Kushner use private emails to talk with foreign governments? Dem senator pitches ideas for gun control after shooting MORE (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, dismissed the possibility that Haley could get a vote, noting that his committee still hadn’t approved her.

“We still have questions,” he said. “[Until] the end of close of business today we can still ask questions. ...We need to get the answers before we vote.”

Updated at 6:21 p.m.