The Senate Commerce Committee announced on Tuesday evening that it would postpone the confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Commerce Department, Wilbur Ross, from this Thursday to Wednesday Jan. 18 because the committee has not yet received the nominee’s ethics agreement.
“The general practice of the Senate Commerce Committee has been to require complete applications on candidates for Senate confirmation before holding a hearing. While Mr. Ross has submitted his responses to the committee’s questionnaire, we have not yet received the ethics agreement he is working on with the Office of Government Ethics and the Department of Commerce to finalize,” reads a joint statement from Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. Bill Nelson (R-FL), the chair and ranking member of the committee, respectively.
“In this instance, especially given that the committee will be proceeding with the hearing for another key cabinet appointment tomorrow, we have agreed to postpone Thursday’s hearing until January 18, so that ethics officials have additional time to complete their work and provide relevant information to the committee. We both remain committed to fair consideration of Mr. Ross’ nomination,” they continued in the statement.
The delay of Ross’ hearing follows the postponement of hearings for Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick to lead the Education Department, and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), the nominee to lead the CIA, both of which were originally scheduled for Wednesday.
Democrats have blasted Republicans for scheduling confirmation hearings to take place before reports from the Office of Government Ethics have been completed and have accused the GOP of trying to rush through confirmations on the same day.
Politico reported Tuesday evening, citing unnamed Congressional aides and lawmakers, that talks between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have resulted in the hearing delays. Democrats have indicated that they are willing to quickly confirm some of Trump’s nominees if Republicans wait for ethics reviews and refrain from packing the schedule with hearings, according to Politico.
“If they file the papers, we have fulsome hearings on a timely basis and don’t stack them on top of one another I think it leads to opportunities for votes on the cabinet at an earlier time,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, according to Politico.