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 McConnellMitch McConnellHealthcare saga shaping GOP approach to tax bill Key Senate Republican offers dim outlook for Trump budget Senate votes to confirm US ambassador to China 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 WydenRon WydenFlynn refusal sets up potential subpoena showdown Dems demand answers on report that admin tried to trade ObamaCare payments Week ahead: Tech awaits Trump budget 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 LeahySessions postpones Senate testimony on DOJ funding GOP talks of narrowing ‘blue-slip’ rule for judges GOP bill would create mandatory minimums for crimes against police MORE (Vt.) and Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalFive things to know about Joe Lieberman Special counsel appointment gets bipartisan praise Dem senators push for probe of Sessions over Comey firing MORE (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 CornynIt’s time to rethink prisoner re-entry Divisions emerge in the Senate on pre-existing conditions Key Senate Republican offers dim outlook for Trump budget 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 WickerGOP senators on Comey firing: Where they stand United Airlines grilled at Senate hearing Overnight Tech: Republicans offer bill to kill net neutrality | Surveillance, visa reforms top GOP chair's tech agenda | Panel pushes small biz cyber bill 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 CardinBen CardinWorries mount about vacancies in Trump's State Department Pence marks Armed Forces Day with vow to rebuild military Trump's steps on Iran show cooperation with Congress is possible 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.