Senate Confirms Defense, Homeland Security Secretaries

President Donald Trump enters the White House with only two of his nominees approved by the Senate, after Democrats on Friday followed through with their pledge to delay confirmation for a handful of administration picks they find objectionable.

Hours after Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, the Senate voted 98-1 to confirm retired Gen. James Mattis to lead the Defense Department and 88-11 to confirm retired Gen. John Kelly as head of the Department of Homeland Security. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had hoped to also confirm Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) as the next Central Intelligence Agency director on Friday. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) objected to expediting the vote, saying a Monday vote would allow debate to take place “in the light of day.”

McConnell said the vote would come Monday, but admonished Democrats for the delay.

“It makes no sense to leave the post open,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor Friday. “Not for another week. Not for another day. Not for another hour.”

The number of nominees confirmed on the first day of Trump’s presidency falls short of his immediate predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who had seven of his picks confirmed on his Inauguration Day.

Democrats have a list of eight nominees they’re targeting, though Republicans, with their 52-48 majority, have the votes to confirm all of Trump’s picks if they stick together. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that it’s possible “some other noncontroversial nominees could be considered relatively quickly.”

Senate Republicans have scheduled committee votes next week for at least three of Trump’s nominees: Rex Tillerson for secretary of state; Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general; and Ben Carson for secretary of housing and urban development. Confirmation hearings are scheduled Tuesday for a handful of other nominees.

Morning Consult