The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted in favor of Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions to become U.S. attorney general, sending his nomination to a final chamber vote.
The party-line vote was 11-9.
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A Republican-controlled Senate committee voted Wednesday to advance two of President Trump’s Cabinet nominations to a full chamber vote – after suspending its own rules to overcome a Democratic boycott.
The day before, Democrats refused to attend the meeting to consider Steven Mnuchin to serve as Treasury secretary and Georgia GOP Rep. Tom Price to serve as Health and Human Services secretary, demanding more information about the nominees. The move came as Democrats stepped up resistance to several Trump nominees, amid outcry over Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration.
But Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, on Wednesday made the move to sidestep Democrats by suspending committee rules on the number of members required to vote.
The rule requires at least one Democrat be present for a vote. With the rules lifted, the committee advanced the nominations to the floor.
Hatch called the Democrats’ decision to boycott the vote “the most pathetic thing.”
“We took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues,” he also said.
“They should be ashamed,” he told reporters.
Hatch said he made the move after getting an OK from the Senate Parliamentarian Office and that every Republican member of the committee was present and voting, exceeding the one-third requirement for a so-called “quorum.
Mnuchin and Price will almost certainly get the required simple majority needed for confirmation because Republicans have 52 senators and Democrat have 48.
“The only thing missing was a member from the minority side,” Hatch continued. But, as I noted, they, on their own accord, refused to participate in this exercise.”