From the Washington Post:
Senate Republicans pushed through committee two of President Trump’s Cabinet nominees on Wednesday morning, reacting angrily to Democratic stalling tactics to disrupt a series of confirmation hearings the day before.
In a rare move likely to further stoke partisan tensions, Senate Finance Commitee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) suspended his committee’s rules to advance Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) as secretary of Health and Human Services. Their nominations now head to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote, though it’s unclear when that will occur.
And by about 10:45 Wednesday morning, Senate Democrats also had not shown up at an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing to consider Scott Pruitt, Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I hope this is not the new normal, because we cannot afford the EPA to go without an administrator,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), as an aide held a chart showing how quickly then-President Barack Obama’s nominees had been confirmed. “This amounts to nothing more than political theater at the expense of working on issues that we care about.” [Pols emphasis]
This is an interesting statement from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo), who just last year was outspoken about the legitimacy of Senate Republicans refusing to even hold a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court choice, Merrick Garland. Barrasso would have you believe that ignoring rules is the honorable thing to do so long as it is Republicans who are doing it.
In the Finance Committee, Hatch explained in a statement that although panel rules said their must be a quorum of members for all committee business — including a member from each party — those rules can be suspended at any time. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) moved to suspend the rules regarding these nominees specifically, and all rules that apply to them going forward. Hatch said the rare measure was approved by the Senate parliamentarian.
Democrats probably can’t do much to stop confirmation of Trump’s cabinet appointees, since only 50 votes are required out of a Senate with 52 Republican members. When rules don’t matter anymore, there’s not much left…