Democrats Aim To Delay Confirmation Hearings Until After Inauguration

(CSPAN Screen Shot)

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
Font Size:

WASHINGTON — Another Senate Democrat would rather see confirmation hearings after President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated.

Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voiced his concerns for Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state pick, and hopes to slow down the confirmation process.

Similar to Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who was also not in office when Barack Obama was first inaugurated, Coons, who came into office during the 2010 election cycle, blew off comparisons of Obama’s inauguration day in January 2009 when seven of his nominees were confirmed by voice vote through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“I wasn’t here in 2009 and I don’t think that its relevant how many nominees were confirmed by the day the inauguration of Bush versus Obama,” Coons told The Daily Caller. Coons would not say why his absence at the time was relevant either.

“What I think matters is whether we have the time to dig into the records and conduct a fair and full hearing of a broad range of nominees — many of whom don’t have don’t have a record of previous public service or public records, and many of them don’t have a record of previously being confirmed by the Senate. So we will have largely from the beginning reviewed who they are,” he said.

Blumenthal agreed saying he wants a recorded vote for all Trump nominees. “I wasn’t around then. I’m telling you what I believe what I should do be doing as a member of this body voting on cabinet members the first time in a new administration,” he told The Daily Caller last week. “We are here to vote and have our votes recorded.”

“There are real differences between negotiating an oil contract — an oil exploration drilling contract in the Arctic with Vladimir Putin and standing up for and fighting for American values like the free press, human rights, and democracy and a number of senators myself included raised concerns about whether Tillerson’s long and close friendship with Vladimir Putin — close enough to be awarded a medal of friendship will complicate his ability to be an effective Sec. of State for American values rather than shareholders interest,” Coons told reporters Tuesday.

Republican Sen. John Barrasso, however, told The Daily Caller last week that Democrats still cannot get over losing the election and still being in the minority in the Senate.

“Elections have consequences. Democrats are still in shock that they’ve lost the presidency, and they are in the minority still in the United States Senate, so we are going to do everything we can to make sure that President-elect Trump’s nominees are confirmed after we have hearings,” Barrasso told reporters Tuesday.

“We want to make sure that hearings start, and that’s why we are coming in with the swearing-in day in the Senate Jan. 3, and then we will continue to work. We will not take a recess as often is done between then and the inauguration, but we will be in session. And then the week that is normally the Martin Luther King birthday week we are going to be in session that week, other than Monday, which is a federal holiday,” he said.

Coons complained, however, that Republican committee chairmen who want the confirmation hearings scheduled prior inauguration will make it difficult for members like himself who are on multiple committees.

“I’ve enjoyed a constructive positive relationship with Chairman Corker and I’m certainly going to convey in my hope that we will have a full hearing process. I know that most of the committee chairs have conveyed that they want to get these hearings done as soon as possible. The chair of the Judiciary Committee has already scheduled two days of hearings before the inauguration for Sen. Sessions as the nominee for Attorney General. One of our challenges will be that many of serve on multiple committees. I serve on five committees,” Coons said.

He added, “It would be quite difficult to be in the middle of confirmation hearings for Attorney General and confirmation hearings for Secretary of State at the same time and to do that process justice, so it’s my hope that we will have fair and full and open hearings so the American people can reach conclusions about these nominees and so we can have a constructive process rather than a partisan process.”

Follow Kerry on Twitter