Published On: Mon, Jan 16th, 2017

Trump’s Cabinet picks generally well-received During congressional confirmation hearings

Trump’s Cabinet picks generally well-received

During congressional confirmation hearings

 

carlos-barbieri-retrato-122x150-1By Carlo Barbieri

Second of Two Parts

 

As anticipated, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for Cabinet positions and other high-level jobs were received cordially during the first week of congressional confirmation hearings.

 

Not everyone was unscathed, though. Bumps in the road were evident, and Democrats picked at some of the Cabinet hopefuls. But at this point, it appears unlikely that any nominees will be rejected.

 

Several factors come into play here. Some choices are just not controversial enough to fuss about.  Democrats also know that with a Republican president and GOP majority in both houses of Congress, they don’t stand much of a chance of making an argument that sticks. Also, as I said last week, Mr. Trump chose his appointees with great care.
Consider Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general. He could have opted for bigger names – former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, all tough, seasoned prosecutors. But he chose someone with vast political experience, something he hasn’t done with most of his picks.

 

Trump has stood by his selection of Sessions, though it angered civil rights activists, particularly over the appointee’s stance on tough immigration enforcement policies.

 

Sessions endured lengthy scrutiny by lawmakers, but will likely be confirmed as the next AG. He may not be the perfect candidate, but is certainly more fair and balanced and less prone to suspicious behavior than either of his two predecessors, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.

 

Trump’s selection of Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education brings a South Florida connection to Washington. Ms. DeVos is the daughter-in-law of Richard DeVos, a well-known philanthropist and co-founder of Amway who endowed the Blum-DeVos YMCA in Boynton Beach. Ms. DeVos is perhaps best known for her advocacy of school choice, voucher programs and ties to the Reformed Christian community.

DeVos’s nomination has generally been criticized by teacher unions and praised by supporters of school choice. She doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with Trump, but several of his picks have crossed swords with the incoming president. The Washington Post noted that “Trump’s embrace of DeVos shows a willingness to look outside his circle of loyalists.”

Most other picks have not drawn a lot of negative ink. Trump wants Marine Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly is the former head of the U.S. Southern Command and was responsible for the country’s military activities in Latin America and the Caribbean. His son was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2010.

Steven Mnuchin seems destined to be secretary of the Treasury. He worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years before launching his own hedge fund. The president-elect is a critic of Goldman Sachs, largely because the firm paid enormous fees to Hillary Clinton for speeches.

Mnuchin also invested in several Hollywood movies, including “Avatar,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Suicide Squad,” and was Trump’s presidential campaign finance chairman.

Wilbur Ross, head of investment banking company Rothschild Inc. for 25 years, was tapped to be the secretary of the Department of Commerce. An investor and businessman, Ross is said to be worth $2.5 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. He also served as an economic policy adviser to Trump during his campaign.

 

Elaine Chao has been appointed secretary of Transportation. She previously served as labor secretary under former President George W. Bush. She was the first Asian-American woman to hold a Cabinet position. Chao is also married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

 

Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price has been chosen for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. He was an orthopedic surgeon before entering politics. He has been a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. “Under Obamacare, the American people are paying more for health care and getting less – less access, less quality and fewer choices,” he has said.

 

In addition, Trump has selected Rep. Ryan Zinke, a first-term Republican from Montana, as his Interior secretary. Zinke is a proponent of keeping public lands under federal ownership, putting him at odds with some others in the GOP. Zinke, 55, is also a former Navy SEAL commander

 

Among non-Cabinet level picks, the president-elect plans to name Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt has been a harsh critic of President Barack Obama’s measures and regulations to curb climate change. He has launched multiple lawsuits against regulations put forward by the EPA.

 

Pruitt sued the agency over its regulations of power plants. The nominee is a prominent denier of climate science, writing in the National Review in May that “the debate is far from settled” over whether human activity has contributed to the warming of the earth.

 

Trump has nominated South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney as

Director of the Office of Management & Budget (OMB). If confirmed, Mulvaney will also set up the federal government’s system for purchasing goods and services, called procurement, and oversee the performance review for government agencies and federal employees.

 

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, an S.C. native, is Trump’s selection to serve as ambassador to the United Nations, a role currently held by Samantha Power.

 

Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, brings diversity to the new administration and also points out that Trump is willing to welcome Republicans who have offered him only lukewarm support. Haley had supported Marco Rubio for president, and is another appointee who was critical of Trump during the campaign. In her case, it was for not taking a stronger stance against white supremacy.

Born Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa in Bamberg, S.C., she has been governor since 2011. She served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011.

We look forward to Congress approving these exceptional nominees and we will be watching on Friday, Jan. 20, when Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States.

 

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