This week: Republicans aim to break jam on Trump nominees
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A fight over President Trump's nominees is poised to come to a head in the Senate as GOP leadership tries to break a logjam on the picks. 

Trump wrapped up his first week in office with only four nominees confirmed by senators, lagging behind the roughly seven President Obama got confirmed on his first day in 2009. 

Republicans are preparing to begin forcing votes on his remaining nominees. 

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Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Overnight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Partisan squabbles endanger congressional response to Trump's course on Syria MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters that lawmakers will "in a more fulsome way move into approving Cabinet appointments, both controversial and non-controversial." 

The Senate's top Republican moved last week to set up a vote on Rex Tillerson's nomination to lead the State Department amid fierce opposition from Democrats. 

Senators will take a procedural vote on Tillerson on Monday evening with a simple majority needed to move forward, setting up final passage for early this week. 

Democrats face an uphill battle to block any of Trump's Cabinet picks. 

Under a 2013 decision by then Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTrump thanks Reid for warning Democrats not to underestimate him Reid warns Democrats not to underestimate Trump Harry Reid predicts Trump, unlike Clinton, won't become more popular because of impeachment MORE (D-Nev.), they will need only 51 votes to clear the upper chamber and Republicans have a 52-seat majority. 

But they can use the Senate's procedural hurdles to drag out floor consideration on an individual nominee for days.

Democrats began coming out in earnest against Tillerson on Friday with both Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTurkey says soldier killed despite cease-fire in Syria Schumer calls for FDA to probe reports of contaminated baby food How Trump and Pelosi went from bad to worse MORE (D-N.Y.), the minority leader, and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — ObamaCare premiums dropping for 2020 | Warren, Buttigieg shift stances on 'Medicare for All' | Drug companies spend big on lobbying Mellman: Trumping peace and prosperity Tlaib to join Sanders at campaign rally in Detroit MORE (I-Vt.) formally announcing their opposition. 

Tillerson as a "man who will not lift a finger to fight climate change and will not rule out a Muslim registry would make it even worse," Schumer said in a statement. 

But the former ExxonMobile CEO will get the support of at least one Democrat: Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (D-W.Va.). 

The red-state Democrat, who is up for reelection in 2018, became the first member of his party to back Tillerson, calling their long relationship and his experience leading a corporation as "crucial" to his support. 

Manchin is one of 10 Democrats running for reelection in a state carried by Trump, with most of the 2018 lawmakers remaining on the fence over Tillerson. 

The Senate will also take a vote on Elaine Chao to be Trump's Transportation secretary. She is expected to easily clear the upper chamber on Tuesday.

Chao is well-known among lawmakers in both parties. She previously served as President George W. Bush's Labor secretary and is married to McConnell. 

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take a vote Tuesday on Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSanctuary city policies are a threat to decent people Trump attacks Sessions: A 'total disaster' and 'an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama' Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Washington Times after story on her 'high-dollar hairdo' MORE to be attorney general, after Democrats delayed the nomination last week. 

The move would pave the way for Session's nomination to head to the full Senate, where he's expected to ultimately be approved. 

The Senate Finance Committee will also vote on Trump's pick to head the Treasury Department, Steven Mnuchin, on Monday evening.

 

Undoing Obama regulations

Congress is moving to unwind a slew of Obama-era regulations, starting with votes in the House this week on five resolutions to disapprove of regulations issued during the previous administration.

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can pass resolutions of disapproval to overturn regulations 60 legislative days after they go into effect.

Three of the Obama regulations on the chopping block this week were issued after the election, making them a prime target for Republicans particularly eager to do away with so-called “midnight” regulations finalized in the last two months of the former president’s term.

One of those rules was designed to limit coal mining pollution in streams, while another moved to add Social Security disability recipients considered unable to manage their affairs to the national instant criminal background check system for gun purchases.

The other rules set for axing include a Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring oil and gas companies to reveal payments made to foreign governments; an Interior Department rule to reduce methane pollution from oil and natural gas wells on federal land; and the Labor Department’s rule to require certain federal contractors to report recent labor law violations.   

The resolutions are expected to pass along party lines in the House. In the Senate, they can be approved with a simple majority and circumvent a Democratic filibuster.

"With President Trump's signature, every one of these regulations will be overturned," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week.

"In the weeks to come, the House and Senate will use the Congressional Review Act to repeal as many job-killing and ill-conceived regulations as possible," McCarthy wrote. "That's how to protect American workers and businesses, defend the Constitution, and turn words into action."

Lydia Wheeler contributed.