By Adam Hornbuckle
President Trump’s cabinet picks are in the middle of the Senate confirmation process. Although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and CIA Director Mike Pompeo have been confirmed, less than one third of the cabinet picks that require confirmation have yet to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The remainder of the nominees are awaiting floor votes or hearings.
Democrats were aggressive with their questioning of Trump’s nominees Pruitt, Tillerson, Price, Sessions, DeVos and Mnuchin in January. After President Trump issued an executive order banning travel from seven Middle Eastern and African nations on Jan.3o, Democratic leadership pledged to slow the nominations. The hearings for Pruitt, Price and Mnuchinin in Senate committees have been sabotaged by Democrats who have staged full boycotts of the meetings to delay votes.
Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, has called the cabinet a “swamp cabinet,” according to the New York Times. Schumer has been focusing hard on Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, saying “In all areas she ranks among the lowest of any cabinet nominee I have ever seen,” according to the New York Times. Senator Elizabeth Warren has also been critical of Devos, saying it is “hard to imagine a less qualified or more dangerous person to be entrusted both with our country’s education policy and with a trillion-dollar student loan program,” according to the New York Times.
“It’s scary that the people in political power care more about nominating people who are political loyalists than nominating people who are actually qualified for the job,” Nicole Guillet, sophomore education major said of the cabinet appointees.
Sophomore clinical lab science major Diandra Ellis sees the cabinet nominations as a part of a larger problem. “The people of the Republican Party are unwilling to focus on the unqualified nominees and misrepresented ideologies of the president because they refuse to accept the views of an opposing party.”
Several LIU Post students who stated they supported the cabinet nominees declined to comment about the nominees.
Along with the polarizing cabinet picks, President Trump announced his long awaited Supreme Court nomination on Feb.1. Trump’s pick to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Scalia last February is Neil Gorsuch, a federal appellate court judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Gorsuch has ruled on many controversial cases, including the infamous Hobby Lobby V. Burwell case; the case raised the question of whether or not Hobby Lobby could legally deny its employees health coverage for contraceptives.
Senate Democrats are currently debating if a libuster is the logical move to respond to the Republican’s treatment of President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland; Garland was not given a hearing, despite what Democrats argues was the Senate’s constitutional duty to do so.
“A generation ago, Gorsuch would have been confirmed without much difficulty. But not today,” Jeremy Buchman, a professor in the political science department, said. The Democratic base, and much of the Senate Democratic caucus, sees the Supreme Court vacancy as stolen property that a president who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million should not have carte blanche to fill. The base is especially energized
in the face of Trumpism (Donald Trump’s policy agenda), and it is not about to let its Senators play nice. At this point, I’d expect a threatened libuster, followed by a successful Republican move to eliminate the libuster for Supreme Court nominees,” Buchman said.
Buchman described Judge Gorsuch as “a younger, less dyspeptic version of Scalia.” He added that “both are vocal proponents of originalism, or the idea that constitutional text should be interpreted in light of the meaning its drafters would have understood it to have. Both favor greater leeway for religious expression in the public sphere, strongly oppose Roe v. Wade, and sometimes take positions on criminal justice issues that conservatives typically don’t take. And both are known for their vivid and clear prose style.” Although, according to Buchman, “legal observers on both sides of the aisle speak very highly of Gorsuch’s intellectual capabilities and temperament,” that does not necessarily “mean Democrats won’t be seeking payback for Garland, but it does suggest that the opposition to Gorsuch won’t necessarily be about Gorsuch per se.”