UPDATE: Senate Republicans suspended the rules requiring at least one Democrat to be present to vote in order to push through the HHS secretary and Treasury secretary nominations.
As Cortney and Christine wrote Tuesday, Senate Democrats delayed committee votes on three of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees. Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for attorney general of the United States, and Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) for Health and Human Services secretary all got held up because Democrats simply didn’t show up to vote. All three are expected to be confirmed once they’re out of committee, which the Democrats know. They nuked the filibuster rules on non-Supreme Court presidential appointments, so all they can do is maximize the delay through committee procedure. At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was irate, saying that it was about time that these political games with the president’s nominees stop—and that Democrats come to grips with the fact that they lost the election (via The Hill):
It is time to get over the fact that they lost the election,” he said.
Asked about statements by Mnuchin and Price that Democrats have called “lies,” McConnell said the minority party was “manufacturing issues.”
He added that if they didn’t find fault with their testimony, they would have come up with other reasons to delay their nominations.
The issues surrounding Price and Mnuchin seem to be blown out of proportion. Take this into account for Mnuchin. It was reported that he threw some old lady out of her house for defaulting on her home loan by 27¢. The bank that he co-founded financed the loan. My god—what a monster, right? No. As Sean Davis at The Federalist wrote, this appears to be fake news:
Take, for example, this salacious detail Politico reported about Wall Street banker Steven Mnuchin, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary. According to the Politico report, which was quickly gobbled up and redistributed by every major media outlet on earth, Mnuchin foreclosed on the home of a 90-year-old widow over a 27-cent debt.
Pretty horrifying, right? It would be, if any of it were actually true. According to Ted Frank, a seasoned litigator who runs the Center for Class Action Fairness, the whole thing is bogus. Not only did Mnuchin’s company not have anything to do with the litigation against the woman, her home was never foreclosed on, either. The suit that was filed against her was based on faulty paperwork by the mortgage servicer and quickly dismissed, at which point the bank that was involved put an offer on the table to pay her for her troubles.
For Price, it’s a mess of a story, where he allegedly violated the STOCK Act, which prevents members of Congress from benefitting from insider trading, when he bought stock in Zimmer Biomet, a company that manufactures hip and joint replacements. Price made a purchase of stock a week before he introduced the HIP act, that delayed a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation that would have a detrimental impact on Biomet. Well, a few problems. One, the bill he was working on was in the works for months. Second, Price doesn’t order trades. Morgan Stanley does that for him. Price introduced the HIP act on March 23, 2016. In September of 2015, he first questioned the Obama administration’s CMS regulation. Third, Morgan Stanley informed him of the trade on April 14, 2016, which he then reported immediately for financial disclosure. Over at Hot Air, Ed asked, “How can there be a conflict of interest when the principal is unaware of the interest?” As for the value of the trade, well, Price stands to make a whopping $300. To put this in context, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner didn’t pay his taxes and he still got confirmed.
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