- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2017

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Thursday that Democrats would clear the way for confirmation votes on some of President-elect Donald Trump’s national security team on Inauguration Day, but threatened to hold up most of the other nominees.

For the rest of the nominees, the New York Democrat said that Mr. Trump had selected a “swamp Cabinet” full of billionaires and bankers whose ethics and business records required extra scrutiny. He vowed that Democrats would fight their confirmations every step of the way and on the Senate floor.

The confirmation process has become a flash point in the early struggle between the incoming Trump administration and Senate Democrats, as delay tactics threaten to leave Mr. Trump with fewer Cabinet secretaries confirmed on his first day than recent presidents.

Mr. Schumer’s announcement of a likely agreement for votes on Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis for defense secretary and Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly for homeland security secretary was a breakthrough.

He said that after some debate on the nomination of Rep. Mike Pompeo to run the CIA, hopefully they could later get a vote.

Still, having two or three nominees confirmed when Mr. Trump is sworn in Friday would be far fewer than the seven confirmed on both President Obama’s first day in 2009 and President George W. Bush’s first day in 2001.

President Clinton had three Cabinet-level appointments confirmed on his first day in 1993. But he got 13 more confirmed his second day in office.

Mr. Schumer said that some “non-controversial nominees” could also receive a quick vote.

“But from there, we intend to have a full and rigorous debate on the president-elect’s remaining nominees,” he said. “Senate Republicans did not want to have a full debate on the merits of these nominees in committee, but they should be prepared to do so on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Mr. Schumer pushed back against arguments from Republicans that Senate Democrats should give the same deference to Mr. Trump’s nominees that Senate Republicans gave to Mr. Obama’s nominees in 2009, saying that the nominees defied that comparison.

“I would remind my Republican friends that the only real billionaire in President Obama’s cabinet, Penny Pritzker, took six months to clear her ethical conflicts and file papers. So we have made some progress on a few fronts,” he said.

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