Members of the House progressive caucus on Thursday railed against President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks. Caucus co-chair Keith Ellison (D-MN), who is also running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, described the Trump nominees as “representing a very disturbing trend.”
“With only a few exceptions, the individuals that President-elect Trump has appointed is the greatest collection of stooges and cronies and misfits we have ever seen in a presidential administration,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) said at a press conference hosted by a handful of the caucus’ members.
Among the Trump selections so far they took issue with were Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) at Health and Human Services secretary; Steve Mnuchin at Treasury; Betsy DeVos at Education; Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development Secretary; and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) at the Justice Department.
“The Attorney General nominee may be a nice fellow, but one’s records and deeds [are] evidence of how you will govern,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) said.
As members of the House, the Progressive Caucus members won’t play a direct role in Trump’s nominees’ confirmation process, which goes through the Senate.
“I count on the Senate to object these individuals,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said.
Democrats’ ability to block Trump’s selections is limited due to Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) move in 2013 to change the filibuster rules when his party controlled the Senate so that certain executive branch nominees only required a majority vote.
“We need help from the media, folks. We need the media to stop taking the bait,” Huffman said.
There is one cabinet-related matter House progressives have the chance to weigh in on. Congress must approve of a special waiver for retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s pick for Defense secretary, because he was on active duty so recently. A provision expediting the waiver process was slipped into a must-pass spending resolution the House was set to vote on Thursday.
Corrected: This story has been corrected to reflect that Rep. Keith Ellison represents Minnesota, not Michigan.