Five things to watch in round two of Trump confirmation fights

Five things to watch in round two of Trump confirmation fights
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The Senate is gearing up for a second round of fights over President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE’s Cabinet nominees as Republicans race to clear his picks ahead of Friday’s inauguration.
 
Eight nominees are heading to Capitol Hill this week to face what is expected to be an hourslong grilling from lawmakers — and half are on Democrats’ hit list.
 
The Senate will hold hearings this week for Betsy DeVos, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Steve Mnuchin and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s picks for Education, Health, Treasury and Environmental Protection Agency chiefs, respectively.
 
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), Wilbur Ross and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), Trump's picks to respectively lead the Interior, Commerce and Energy departments — as well as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), tapped to be his United Nations ambassador — will also get hearings this week.
 
Democrats face an uphill battle to block any of the nominees, who will only need 50 votes to clear the upper chamber, but plan to use the showdowns to grill them on a myriad of issues.
 
Here are five things to watch during what's expected to be an explosive week of hearings.
 
Who gets votes on 'day one'?
 
 
“It is still my hope that regardless of the hearing schedule, some of which have been moved slightly, we will be in a position to confirm a significant number of the president's nominees on day one,” he told reporters last week.
 
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynAll hostages free, safe after hours-long standoff at Texas synagogue: governor McConnell will run for another term as leader despite Trump's attacks Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster  MORE (R-Texas), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, told The Hill that at a "minimum" he wants votes on day one to confirm five of Trump's picks: Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE (R-Ala.) as attorney general, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as CIA director, retired Gen. John Kelly as Homeland Security secretary, Rex Tillerson as secretary of State and former Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsAn independent commission should review our National Defense Strategy Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race MORE (R-Ind.) as director of national intelligence.
 
But to get any of Trump’s nominees through the Senate on the first day, Republicans will need help from Democrats, who could use the upper chamber’s procedural levers to drag out a nomination, potentially for days.
 
Democrats haven’t publicly ruled out letting nominees through, but stressed that all paperwork must be finalized and lawmakers given enough time to review it before they get a full vote before the Senate.
 
Republicans note that the then-Democrat controlled Senate confirmed seven of President Obama’s nominees on the same day of his 2009 inauguration, with five additional nominees confirmed within the first week.
 
Will Democrats try to change the schedule?
 
Democrats were successful in the first round of fights over delaying the hearing of at least one of their top targets, DeVos for Education secretary, amid pushback over paperwork and a busy Senate floor schedule.
 
But the move, coupled with a Friday announcement for Mnuchin's hearing, means the second week of confirmation fights will include as many total hearings as the first week, at eight. It also includes four of the eight nominees Democrats are pledging to oppose, compared to two last week.
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Kelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race Hundreds attend mass funeral for victims of Bronx apartment building fire MORE (D-N.Y.) previously credited McConnell with being willing to work with him to move around the hearings schedule and indicated he hoped to work out another agreement going forward.
 
A spokesman for Schumer didn’t respond to request for comment on if he was trying to move any of the hearings. The current schedule will come to a head on Wednesday when four nominees, including Pruitt and Price, are expected to testify at hearings that each start at 10 a.m.
 
Approximately eight Democrats will be double-booked on hearings for Wednesday, based on a review of committee assignments. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) — a member of the Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works, and Commerce committees — is expected to attend three hearings scheduled to occur simultaneously.
 
Price faces grilling on investments, ObamaCare
 
Democrats are seizing on a report that Price purchased shares in Zimmer Biomet, a medical device manufacturer, and then introduced legislation benefiting the company. 
 
Schumer pointed to the CNN report on Monday evening, saying the Office of Congressional Ethics "needs to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into these potential violations of the STOCK Act" before Price's nomination is allowed to move forward. 
 
"This report and his previous trades cast serious doubt on whether Congressman Price is fit to hold the office of Secretary for Health and Human Services," the Senate's top Democrat said in a statement. 
 
Price has announced plans to divest from 43 companies, including Zimmer Biomet, to avoid any appearances of conflicts of interest.

Democrats are poised to question Trump's Health and Human Services nominee on the Affordable Care Act, as well as his plans for Medicare, during a hearing Wednesday.

Schumer singled out Price on the Senate floor recently, calling him the “most glaring example” of a Trump nominee who is to the right of the president-elect's campaign rhetoric regarding cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

Price will be at the center of the fight over when to repeal ObamaCare and how to replace it. Trump has said his administration will submit a replacement plan to coincide with Price’s confirmation. 

Price could also face questions from Republicans on the committee, including moderate Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities More than 30 million families to lose child tax credit checks starting this weekend MORE (Maine), about the replacement plan. Collins has called for a “detailed framework” for a replacement before repeal.

 
What will Heller do?
 
Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerSeven most vulnerable governors facing reelection in 2022 Nevada becomes early Senate battleground Nevada governor Sisolak injured in car accident, released from hospital MORE (Nev.), considered the most vulnerable Republican up for reelection in 2018, is facing pressure from outside groups to oppose Mnuchin, who Democrats have nicknamed the “foreclosure king.”
 
Heller told The Hill that he’s withholding his judgement on Mnuchin until he’s able to question him about his housing policies during Thursday’s hearing.
 
"I looked at him eye to eye and asked him what he was going to do about the housing issues,” he said.
 
Democrats have seized on a wave of foreclosures by the California-based OneWest Bank while Mnuchin was at the helm from 2009 to 2015.
 
Though no charges were ever brought against the company for the tens of thousands of foreclosures, Democrats are planning to make it a key issue in his hearing.
 
Twenty-five Democratic senators sent Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMeet Washington's most ineffective senator: Joe Manchin Lobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage MORE (R-Utah), who chairs the Finance Committee, a letter on Friday asking him to allow families affected by the foreclosures to testify at Mnuchin’s hearing.
 
 
Can Pruitt dodge Dems’ fire?
 
Pruitt has one rule during his Wednesday confirmation hearing: Do no harm.
 
The Oklahoma attorney general is likely to be confirmed, only needing 50 votes in the upper chamber, and has already earned the support of Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenate Democrats eye talking filibuster NAACP president presses senators on voting rights: 'You will decide who defines America' Schumer tees up showdown on voting rights, filibuster MORE (D-W.Va.).
 
But Democrats are planning to use the hearing to launch a multi-pronged trap for Pruitt, with the committee meeting representing their best shot to win an uphill battle to sink his nomination.
 
Democrats want to get Pruitt on the record on climate change and his ties to the oil industry and to try to probe how he will lead the department he frequently sued as Oklahoma’s attorney general.
 
Democrats view Pruitt as the most worrisome of Trump’s energy-related nominees, and environmentalist view him as threat to the EPA.
 
They're also getting help from progressive groups working to sway senators, including the Sierra Club, which has launched a digital ad in 14 states calling Pruitt “one of the most hostile, outspoken opponents of EPA’s clean air and water protections in history.”