WASHINGTON: The US Senate begins confirmation hearings for key nominees to Donald Trump’s cabinet on Tuesday, amid concerns many of the president-elect’s picks haven’t been fully vetted over ethics, or made full financial disclosures.
Ten days before Trump takes the oath of office, lawmakers will hold hearings for Alabama Senator Jeff
Sessions, Trump’s nominee for US attorney general, and retired Marine general John Kelly, his choice for homeland security secretary.
Several nominees are scheduled to have hearings this week, with three due to get under way on Wednesday, including Rex Tillerson, the wealthy Exxon oilman who Trump has tapped for secretary of state.
Unlike Sessions, who has faced pushback from Senate Democrats, Kelly by most accounts has been amicably received during several days of private meetings with Democratic and Republican members of the Homeland Security Committee.
Trump, meanwhile, has shown no sign of worry over the reception his nominees will get on Capitol Hill.
“Confirmation is going great,” he told reporters on Monday in an unexpected appearance in the lobby of Trump Tower, headquarters for his gilded corporate offices in New York City. “I think they’ll all pass,” he predicted.
Democrats however are vowing not to allow Congress to rubber stamp Trump’s cabinet picks without a fight.
Sessions, in particular, has drawn fierce opposition from liberals concerned over his conservative views on everything from abortion rights to civil liberties.
“He has denounced Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a woman’s right to choose.
And on other issues like religious freedoms, torture, where he’s taken positions that I think are out of the mainstream, and of course his staunch and steadfast opposition to any kind of immigration reform,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told MSNBC.
Another Democratic senator, Cory Booker, has gone so far as to say he’ll testify against Sessions at Tuesday’s hearing — a departure from many decades of Senate protocol.