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 McConnellThis week: Senate races toward ObamaCare repeal vote McConnell allies confident in healthcare win GOP’s message on ObamaCare is us versus them 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 WydenElection hacking fears turn heat on Homeland Security Commerce secretary spoiled Treasury secretary’s secret wedding: report Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity 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 LeahyGoing national with automatic voter registration Republicans slam Trump’s new policy toward Cuba Trump draws a harder line on Cuba MORE (Vt.) and Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalOnly Congress can enable drone technology to reach its full potential Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger 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 CornynThis week: Senate races toward ObamaCare repeal vote Week ahead: Senate races toward healthcare vote Cornyn: Passing Senate healthcare bill by July 4 ‘optimistic’ 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 WickerOvernight Defense: GOP chairman moves ahead with 0B defense bill | Lawmakers eye 355 ship navy | Senate panel seeks answers on shoot down of Syrian jet Lawmakers unveil bill to set 355-ship Navy Overnight Tech: Uber CEO resigns | Trump's Iowa tech trip | Dems push Sessions to block AT&T-Time Warner deal | Lawmakers warned on threat to election systems | 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 CardinDem senators urged Obama to take action on Russia before election Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel Senate expected to pass Russia sanctions bill for a second time 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.