This week: Confirmation fights dominate ahead of inauguration
© Greg Nash

The Senate will spend the days leading up to President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE's inauguration Friday locked in a myriad of fights over his Cabinet picks.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections The Armageddon elections to come MORE (R-Ky.) has said he wants to be able to confirm nominees on "day one" of Trump's administration.

“It is still my hope that regardless of the hearing schedule ... we will be in a position to confirm a significant number of the president's nominees on day one,” he told reporters last week.

Republicans have repeatedly pointed to the then-Democrat controlled Senate confirming seven nominees for President Obama shortly after his inauguration in 2009 as a guidepost for the first day of the Trump era.


Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Momentum builds for new COVID-19 relief for businesses Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products MORE (R-Texas) separately said that at a minimum the Senate should look to confirm Trump's picks for attorney general, secretary of State, CIA chief, director of national intelligence and Homeland Security secretary on day one.

But they'll need to lock down a deal to move any of the nominees through the upper chamber on Friday.

Though Democrats face an uphill battle to block any of Trump's picks, which require only 50 votes to clear the Senate, they can use procedural levers to drag out a nomination for days.

Democrats haven't publicly said they would block nominees from getting confirmed quickly, but stressed that a nominee's paperwork must be complete and lawmakers need enough time to review it and ask follow-up questions.

On the sidelines of any potential floor action, eight additional Trump nominees will be coming to Capitol Hill this week for confirmation hearings, in addition to the eight that received hearings last week.

The hourslong public showdowns are Democrats' best shot to drill down nominees' positions on various issues relative to the president-elect's.

The confirmation schedule will come to a head on Wednesday with hearings for Wilbur Ross, Trump's Commerce secretary pick; Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), his Health and Human Services pick; Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), who has been tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) for United Nations ambassador.

Each of the hearings is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) and Betsy DeVos, Trump's picks to lead the Interior and Education departments, respectively, will both get hearings on Tuesday. Meanwhile, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), tapped to lead the Department of Energy, and Steve Mnuchin, his pick for Treasury, will get hearings on Thursday.

Government Accountability

The Senate will also take up a House-passed bill on Tuesday evening aimed at bolstering government oversight and transparency.

Supporters of the legislation, which passed the House unanimously, argue it would give the Government Accountability Office (GAO) access to additional records and make it easier for them to audit and investigate federal agencies.

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), the sponsor of the bill, called on the Senate to take it up "swiftly" after the House passed the legislation.

"The GAO must be able to perform its duties to protect taxpayer dollars and ensure the federal government is transparent and accountable. However, GAO's important mission has been blocked due to some federal agencies failing to cooperate," he said in a statement.

The House is out of session this week.