GOP slows Trump Cabinet confirmation pace

GOP slows Trump Cabinet confirmation pace
© Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Senate Republicans are slowing this week’s breakneck pace for confirmation hearings, postponing two that were scheduled for Wednesday amid Democratic frustrations over the schedule.

Democrats have pushed Republicans to lighten the workload and give the Senate more time to vet President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOPINION: Trump's budget will supercharge America's economy The Hill's 12:30 Report Justice ethics experts clear Mueller to head Russia probe MORE’s picks to lead Cabinet agencies and hold top administration positions, many of whom are wealthy and have business ties to industries they would oversee. 

Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerCongress urges Trump administration to release public transit funding Overnight Tech: FCC begins rolling back net neutrality | Sinclair deal puts heat on regulators | China blames US for 'Wanna Cry' attack Sasse dominates Twitter with Schumer photo, 'reefer' caption MORE (D-N.Y.) called change a “good first step” but signaled Democrats were not satisfied because lawmakers are still waiting on paperwork for some prospective nominees.

“Democrats will not be dilatory as long as the nominees’ paperwork is in and there is adequate time to prepare for and ask questions during the hearings,” he said. “This new hearing schedule is a very good first step, but we still have a ways to go.”

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Republicans had originally scheduled five hearings for Wednesday but pushed back committee appearances for Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Trump's pick for CIA chief, to Thursday and Betsy DeVos, Trump's pick for Education secretary, to next week.

A hearing for Andy Puzder, Trump's proposed Labor secretary, has also been pushed back. Initially scheduled for Jan. 17, it will now take place in February.

Democrats bemoaned the original schedule, arguing not only that it was “unprecedented” but that it would coincide with a marathon voting session expected to kick off Wednesday on passing rules for repealing ObamaCare. The process, informally called a vote-a-rama, allows lawmakers to force a vote on any amendment and could keep senators on the floor for hours. 

Now only three Trump Cabinet picks will go under the microscope in the Senate on Wednesday, with high-stakes hearings planned on the president-elect’s picks for attorney general and secretary of State, as well as a fight over his pick to lead the Transportation Department.