Full out war between Democrats and the White House broke out today when Senate Democrats on Tuesday refused to attend a committee vote on two President Trump’s more controversial nominees, effectively delaying their consideration. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee boycotted votes to advance Tom Price, Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, and Steven Mnuchin, his selection to head the Treasury Department.
Since at least one democrat must be on present for the vote to be held, the move will effectively delay and potentially prevent the confirmation votes on Mnuchin and Price. The duo is among some of the more contentious selections to join Trump’s Cabinet.
Democrats walked out of the Senate Finance Committee hearing room, arguing that Mnuchin and Price misled senators in their testimony before the panel, and saying they could not allow a vote to proceed without more information. Minutes before the scheduled vote on the pair, democrats said they refused to enter the hearing room until they get answers to their questions about Price's stock purchase in an Australian biotechnology company.
"At a minimum, I believe the committee should postpone this vote" and have an opportunity to talk to officials at the biotech company, Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters. He said they'll be willing to move forward on Price and Treasury nominee Steven Mnuchin only after their questions are answered, especially on Price, whom Wyden suggested hasn't been "straight" with the committee.
Both Price and Mnuchin had been targeted fiercely by Democrats on a range of ethical issues. Price was pressed on his investment activity in various medical companies, and whether he improperly mixed his political activity with his personal portfolio. Mnuchin’s time at the head of OneWest Bank, and whether it treated homeowners facing foreclosure fairly, was central to his testimony.
"He misled Congress and he misled the American people," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the panel, said of Price.
According to The Hill, republicans expressed outrage at the move, while Democrats gathered outside the Senate Finance Committee hearing room to outline their gripes with the selections.
“I can’t understand why senators, who know we’re going to have these two people go through, can’t support the committee,” said Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “I’m very disappointed in this kind of crap. … Some of this is because they just don’t like the president.”
“This is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in my whole time in the United States Senate,” Hatch said, adding he would try to hold a vote on the nominees later today.
Expect a furious Trump tweet slamming Democratic opposition momentarily.