Price and Mnuchin approved by Senate Finance Committee minus any participation by Democrats

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-life Senator Orrin Hatch

Pro-life Senator Orrin Hatch

As we discussed yesterday, Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee decided to boycott confirmation hearings for HHS Secretary Rep. Tom Price and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Earlier today, both were endorsed without a dissenting vote by the committee. A change of strategy on the part of petulant Democrats? Actually, no.

According to the Washington Post, “The Republicans voted to temporarily suspend committee rules requiring at least one Democrat present to conduct business.”

Pro-life Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is the committee chair and among the most amiable members of the Senate. Confrontational he is not.

But after Tuesday, he’d had enough. In a statement, Sen. Hatch said

“We took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues. As I noted earlier, the Senate Finance Committee has traditionally been able to function in even the most divisive political environments. Personally, as longtime member of this committee, I have been proud of that distinction. And, in my time as both Ranking Member and Chairman of this committee, I have bent over backwards to preserve its unique status as one of the few places where Republicans and Democrats not only work together, but achieve results. That all changed yesterday. Republicans on this committee showed up to do our jobs. Yesterday, rather than accept anything less than their desired outcome, our Democrat colleagues chose to cower in the hallway and hold a press conference. Now, I get that my colleagues think these nominees are controversial. I get that they don’t want to see them confirmed. We’ve all been in that situation. It comes part and parcel with the job of being a Senator. And, this is hardly the first time a nominee deemed to be controversial has come before this committee.”

As we also discussed yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee questioning of Sen. Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s choice to be Attorney General, ran so long the vote was put off until today.

The Washington Post’s Matt Zapotosky reported, “The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 11 to 9 to advance the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as attorney general. He is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate by the end of the week.”