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 McConnellLawmakers feel pressure on guns Bipartisan group of House lawmakers urge action on Export-Import Bank nominees Curbelo Dem rival lashes out over immigration failure 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 WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees 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 LeahyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees Popular bill to fight drug prices left out of budget deal Judiciary Dems want public hearings with Kushner, Trump Jr. 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 CornynLawmakers feel pressure on guns Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting Murphy: Trump’s support for background check bill shows gun politics ‘shifting rapidly’ 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 WickerAt least Alzheimer’s research is bringing Washington together McConnell urging Mississippi gov to appoint himself if Cochran resigns: report Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA 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 CardinWashington puts Ethiopia's human rights abusers on notice Overnight Defense: Mattis vows Dreamers in military won't be deported | Pentagon unsure if military parade will be in Washington | Dem bill would block funds for parade Dems introduce bills to block funds for Trump's proposed parade 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.