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Duckworth, Booker Rip EPA Nominee Pruitt

Debate continued all night in the U.S. Senate on Scott Pruitt’s nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Opposing his confirmation and going after him especially hard, were Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Duckworth, a highly-decorated Veteran who lost both legs as a helicopter pilot in Iraq, blasted Pruitt for being in the pocket of the fossil-fuel industry and said the United States should not be fighting more wars for oil based on a continued lack of energy independence.

“As someone who fought to defend this great nation, I have seen firsthand the price we pay for our dangerous dependence on oil imported from adversaries,” said Duckworth. “I’ve already fought a war over oil and I would rather run my car on American-grown corn and soybeans than on oil from the Middle East.”

“We need an EPA administrator who will work with Congress to help us find ways to cut, not increase, our use of oil.”

The Illinois Senator also cited the large amount of money Pruitt gets from the fossil-fuel industry as the reason for his apparent hostility on environmental issues.

“He is not fit to lead this agency. An agency he has sued every single chance he’s gotten to block protections for clean air and water. I wonder why he does that. Here might be a reason why: According to the National Institutes on Money in State Politics, it appears that Mr. Pruitt has received over $314,000 from fossil-fuel industries since 2002. I guess he’s being rewarded by the fossil-fuel industry for suing the EPA over and over again.”

Booker’s lengthy speech covered many areas but perhaps the most alarming was when he pointed out that Trump has nominated, in Pruitt, a climate-change denier to head the agency with stewardship over the environment.

“On top of his track record — not for doing things to improve the quality of the air and water but doing things consistently to fight the EPA — on one of the largest issues going on with our planet right now, Mr. Pruitt says that he denies the science and the reality of climate change.”

And Booker accurately calls out Pruitt for recently moving toward the new Republican tactic of not outright denying climate change, but rather constantly pushing doubt on whether human activity is the source.

“He’s a merchant of doubt when it comes to climate change. And he’s attempting to sow uncertainty where there is in fact considerable certainty and as a result he is deliberately undermining and misrepresenting the reality of the case. This is the person intended by the president to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, someone who is a merchant of doubt.”

Added Duckworth: “[We’re aware of] this administration’s tradition of using alternative facts. The alternative to facts is fiction and we can’t afford to have an EPA Administrator who questions climate change.”

Mulvaney Confirmed as OMB Director

By a vote of 51-49, the Senate just confirmed Mick Mulvaney’s nomination to be director of the Office of Management and Budget. It was a party-line vote, save for John McCain (R-AZ) voting with Democrats to reject the Mulvaney nomination.

So this is great, isn’t it? We’ll have as Trump’s OBM director a guy who believes Social Security is a “ponzi scheme” and who says “we have to end Medicare as we know it.”

Cabinet of Deplorables Status: February 16, 2017

Here’s your update on Donald Trump’s Cabinet of Deplorables and where they are in the confirmation process as of Thursday morning. I will update this with a new post as needed until the cabinet is filled. (Changes since last update are bolded for an easier quick-check.)

Confirmed

Elaine Chao; Department of Transportation – Confirmed by a vote of 93-6 on January 31.

Betsy DeVos; Department of Education – Confirmed by a vote of 51-50 on February 7.

Governor Nikki Haley; Ambassador to the United Nations — Confirmed by a vote of 96-4 on January 24.

Retired General John Kelly; Department of Homeland Security – Confirmed by a vote of 88-11 on January 20.

General James Mattis; Department of Defense – Confirmed by a vote of 98-1 on January 20.

Steven Mnuchin; Department of the Treasury – Confirmed by a vote of 53-47 on February 13.

Mike Pompeo; Director, CIA — Confirmed by a vote of 66-32 on January 23.

Representative Tom Price; Department of Health and Human Services – Confirmed by a vote of 52-47 on February 10.

Dr. David Shulkin; Department of Veterans Affairs — Confirmed by a vote of 100-0 on February 13.

Rex Tillerson; Department of State — Confirmed by a vote of 56-43 on February 1.

Reported Out of Committee; Floor vote to be scheduled

Dr. Ben Carson; Department of Housing and Urban Development – Approved unanimously by the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on January 24. Floor vote expected week of February 27.

Representative Mick Mulvaney; Director, Office of Management and Budget — Referred jointly to the Committee on the Budget; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Approved by both the Budget and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on February 2 by votes of 12-11 and 8-7, respectively. Floor vote happening February 16.

Rick Perry; Department of Energy – Approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 31 by a 17-6 vote. Floor vote expected week of February 27.

Scott Pruitt; Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency — Approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee by a vote of 11-0 on February 2. Awaiting a committee vote. Floor vote expected February 17.

Wilbur Ross; Department of Commerce – Approved on January 24 by Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Floor vote expected week of February 27.

Representative Ryan Zinke; Department of the Interior – Approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a 16-6 vote on January 31. Floor vote expected week of February 27.

Awaiting Committee Hearing

Sonny Perdue; Department of Agriculture — Awaiting referral to Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee

Andrew Puzder; Department of Labor — Nomination withdrawn February 15.

Cabinet of Deplorables Status: February 14, 2017

Here’s your update on Donald Trump’s Cabinet of Deplorables and where they are in the confirmation process as of Tuesday morning. I will update this with a new post every day until the cabinet is filled. (Changes since last update are bolded for an easier quick-check.)

Confirmed

Elaine Chao; Department of Transportation – Confirmed by a vote of 93-6 on January 31.

Betsy DeVos; Department of Education – Confirmed by a vote of 51-50 on February 7.

Governor Nikki Haley; Ambassador to the United Nations — Confirmed by a vote of 96-4 on January 24.

Retired General John Kelly; Department of Homeland Security – Confirmed by a vote of 88-11 on January 20.

General James Mattis; Department of Defense – Confirmed by a vote of 98-1 on January 20.

Steven Mnuchin; Department of the Treasury – Confirmed by a vote of 53-47 on February 13.

Mike Pompeo; Director, CIA — Confirmed by a vote of 66-32 on January 23.

Representative Tom Price; Department of Health and Human Services – Confirmed by a vote of 52-47 on February 10.

Dr. David Shulkin; Department of Veterans Affairs — Confirmed by a vote of 100-0 on February 13.

Rex Tillerson; Department of State — Confirmed by a vote of 56-43 on February 1.

Reported Out of Committee; Floor vote to be scheduled

Dr. Ben Carson; Department of Housing and Urban Development – Approved unanimously by the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on January 24. Floor vote possible February 14-16.

Representative Mick Mulvaney; Director, Office of Management and Budget — Referred jointly to the Committee on the Budget; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Approved by both the Budget and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on February 2 by votes of 12-11 and 8-7, respectively. Floor vote possible February 14-16.

Rick Perry; Department of Energy – Approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 31 by a 17-6 vote. Floor vote possible February 14-16.

Scott Pruitt; Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency — Approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee by a vote of 11-0 on February 2. Awaiting a committee vote. Floor vote possible February 14-16.

Wilbur Ross; Department of Commerce – Approved on January 24 by Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Floor vote possible February 14-16.

Representative Ryan Zinke; Department of the Interior – Approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a 16-6 vote on January 31. Floor vote possible February 14-16.

Awaiting Committee Hearing

Sonny Perdue; Department of Agriculture — Awaiting referral to Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee

Andrew Puzder; Department of Labor — Awaiting hearing in Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Mnuchin Confirmed as Treasury Secretary

In a vote that I’m sure surprised few, the Senate just weighed in 53-47, confirming Steven “Foreclosure King” Mnuchin to be the new Secretary of the Treasury.

It was almost a party-line vote with all Republicans voting “aye” and all but one Democrat (and Independents Bernie Sanders and Angus King) rejecting the nomination.  Do you have a wild guess who voted with the Republicans?  Bingo. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“I simply cannot forgive somebody who took a look at that banking crisis, who took a look at the pain that Wall Street had sent in a wave across all of America and thought ‘ah, here’s a great new way to make money foreclosing on people,'” said Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), in a scathing rebuke of the Mnuchin nomination.

“Done, I’m out. Sorry. Can’t vote for somebody like that.”

Speaking against the nomination on Friday, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) ripped Mnuchin’s record of favoring only Wall Street at the expense of the average American.

“The country needs a Treasury Secretary who will consider the needs of all Americans, including working-class Americans,” said Warren. “Mr. Mnuchin’s tenure at One West Bank shows him to work in his interest and in the corporate interest, at the great expense and harm to everyday Americans.”

Of course, the GOP looks at this very differently, with Johnny Isakson (R-GA) saying Trump’s victory in November is a clear mandate for allowing Wall Street to once again run free and unfettered of much regulation.

“The voters spoke in November and wanted change,” said Isakson. “Mr. Mnuchin will help implement that change with a fresh, new regulatory framework that cuts the bureaucratic red tape that costs our economy trillions of dollars each year.”

Cabinet of Deplorables Status: February 13, 2017

Here’s your update on Donald Trump’s Cabinet of Deplorables and where they are in the confirmation process as of Monday morning. I will update this with a new post every day until the cabinet is filled. (Changes since last update are bolded for an easier quick-check.)

Confirmed

Elaine Chao; Department of Transportation – Confirmed by a vote of 93-6 on January 31.

Betsy DeVos; Department of Education – Confirmed by a vote of 51-50 on February 7.

Governor Nikki Haley; Ambassador to the United Nations — Confirmed by a vote of 96-4 on January 24.

Retired General John Kelly; Department of Homeland Security – Confirmed by a vote of 88-11 on January 20.

General James Mattis; Department of Defense – Confirmed by a vote of 98-1 on January 20.

Mike Pompeo; Director, CIA — Confirmed by a vote of 66-32 on January 23.

Representative Tom Price; Department of Health and Human Services – Confirmed by a vote of 52-47 on February 10.

Rex Tillerson; Department of State — Confirmed by a vote of 56-43 on February 1.

Reported Out of Committee; Floor vote to be scheduled

Dr. Ben Carson; Department of Housing and Urban Development – Approved unanimously by the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on January 24. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Steven Mnuchin; Department of the Treasury – Moved out of Finance Committee February 1 with no Democrats allowed to vote (procedural move by Republicans after Democrats boycotted for a second day). Has cleared all procedural votes — confirmation vote expected February 13.

Representative Mick Mulvaney; Director, Office of Management and Budget — Referred jointly to the Committee on the Budget; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Approved by both the Budget and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on February 2 by votes of 12-11 and 8-7, respectively. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Rick Perry; Department of Energy – Approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 31 by a 17-6 vote. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Scott Pruitt; Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency — Approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee by a vote of 11-0 on February 2. Awaiting a committee vote. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Wilbur Ross; Department of Commerce – Approved on January 24 by Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Dr. David Shulkin; Department of Veterans Affairs — Approved by the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs by a 15-0 vote on February 1. Confirmation vote expected February 13.

Representative Ryan Zinke; Department of the Interior – Approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a 16-6 vote on January 31. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Awaiting Committee Hearing

Sonny Perdue; Department of Agriculture — Awaiting referral to Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee

Andrew Puzder; Department of Labor — Awaiting hearing in Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Cabinet of Deplorables Status: February 10, 2017

Here’s your update on Donald Trump’s Cabinet of Deplorables and where they are in the confirmation process as of Friday morning. I will update this with a new post every day until the cabinet is filled. (Changes since last update are bolded for an easier quick-check.)

Confirmed

Elaine Chao; Department of Transportation – Confirmed by a vote of 93-6 on January 31.

Betsy DeVos; Department of Education – Confirmed by a vote of 51-50 on February 7.

Governor Nikki Haley; Ambassador to the United Nations — Confirmed by a vote of 96-4 on January 24.

Retired General John Kelly; Department of Homeland Security – Confirmed by a vote of 88-11 on January 20.

General James Mattis; Department of Defense – Confirmed by a vote of 98-1 on January 20.

Mike Pompeo; Director, CIA — Confirmed by a vote of 66-32 on January 23.

Representative Tom Price; Department of Health and Human Services – Confirmed by a vote of 52-47 on February 10.

Rex Tillerson; Department of State — Confirmed by a vote of 56-43 on February 1.

Reported Out of Committee; Floor vote to be scheduled

Dr. Ben Carson; Department of Housing and Urban Development – Approved unanimously by the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on January 24. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Steven Mnuchin; Department of the Treasury – Moved out of Finance Committee February 1 with no Democrats allowed to vote (procedural move by Republicans after Democrats boycotted for a second day). Has cleared all procedural votes — confirmation vote expected February 13.

Representative Mick Mulvaney; Director, Office of Management and Budget — Referred jointly to the Committee on the Budget; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Approved by both the Budget and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees on February 2 by votes of 12-11 and 8-7, respectively. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Rick Perry; Department of Energy – Approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 31 by a 17-6 vote. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Scott Pruitt; Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency — Approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee by a vote of 11-0 on February 2 with no Democrats allowed to vote (procedural move by Republicans after Democrats boycotted the meeting). Floor vote to be scheduled.

Wilbur Ross; Department of Commerce – Approved on January 24 by Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Dr. David Shulkin; Department of Veterans Affairs — Approved by the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs by a 15-0 vote on February 1. Confirmation vote expected February 13.

Representative Ryan Zinke; Department of the Interior – Approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a 16-6 vote on January 31. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Awaiting Committee Hearing

Sonny Perdue; Department of Agriculture — Awaiting referral to Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee

Andrew Puzder; Department of Labor — Awaiting hearing in Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Cabinet of Deplorables Status: February 8, 2017

Here’s your update on Donald Trump’s Cabinet of Deplorables and where they are in the confirmation process as of Wednesday night. I will update this with a new post every day until the cabinet is filled. (Changes since last update are bolded for an easier quick-check.)

Confirmed

Elaine Chao; Department of Transportation – Confirmed by a vote of 93-6 on January 31.

Betsy DeVos; Department of Education – Confirmed by a vote of 51-50 on February 7.

Governor Nikki Haley; Ambassador to the United Nations — Confirmed by a vote of 96-4 on January 24.

Retired General John Kelly; Department of Homeland Security – Confirmed by a vote of 88-11 on January 20.

General James Mattis; Department of Defense – Confirmed by a vote of 98-1 on January 20.

Mike Pompeo; Director, CIA — Confirmed by a vote of 66-32 on January 23.

Senator Jeff Sessions; Department of Justice – Confirmed by a vote of 52-47 on February 8.

Rex Tillerson; Department of State — Confirmed by a vote of 56-43 on February 1.

Reported Out of Committee; Floor vote to be scheduled

Dr. Ben Carson; Department of Housing and Urban Development – Approved unanimously by the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on January 24. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Steven Mnuchin; Department of the Treasury – Moved out of Finance Committee February 1 with no Democrats allowed to vote (procedural move by Republicans after Democrats boycotted for a second day). Has cleared all procedural votes — confirmation vote likely February 7-9.

Rick Perry; Department of Energy – Approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 31 by a 16-7 vote. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Representative Tom Price; Department of Health and Human Services – Moved out of Finance Committee February 1 with no Democrats allowed to vote (procedural move by Republicans after Democrats boycotted for a second day). Has cleared all procedural votes — confirmation vote likely February 9.

Wilbur Ross; Department of Commerce – Approved on January 24 by Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Representative Ryan Zinke; Department of the Interior – Approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a 16-6 vote on January 31. Floor vote to be scheduled.

Awaiting a Committee Vote

Scott Pruitt; Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency — Hearing held in Environment and Public Works Committee January 18. Awaiting a committee vote.

Dr. David Shulkin; Department of Veterans Affairs — Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearings held February 1. Awaiting a committee vote.

Awaiting Committee Hearing

Representative Mick Mulvaney; Director, Office of Management and Budget — Referred jointly to the Committee on the Budget; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Awaiting referral to Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

Sonny Perdue; Department of Agriculture — Awaiting referral to Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee

Andrew Puzder; Department of Labor — Awaiting hearing in Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Senate Confirms Sessions as Attorney General

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who in late 2015 voted against a Senate resolution denouncing then-candidate Trump’s idea to ban Muslims from the U.S., was just confirmed as Trump’s Attorney General.

The vote was 52-47 and was met with raucous Republican applause when officially announced. Joe Manchin (D-WV) crossed the aisle to vote with the Republicans.

His history of racism is pretty well documented and it’s obvious he will be the chief Trump-enforcement officer versus the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer. He was also Trump’s lapdog for the entirety of that ignorant, bigoted and hateful presidential campaign and there is no doubt that he will work first in accordance with his boss and not the law.

“There is simply nothing in Senator Sessions’ testimony before the Judiciary Committee that gives me confidence that he would be willing to stand up to the president,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). “He has instead demonstrated only blind allegiance. This is a president who started citing alternative facts to deny his small crowd size at his inauguration, but who is now citing alternative facts to excuse murders by Putin’s regime. That should alarm us all.”

The Liberal Lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, said it best in 1986 when he predicted that Sessions would be a “disgrace to the Justice Department.”

Between this, the horrible DeVos vote yesterday, and the railroading of Elizabeth Warren last night, this is quite a lousy week for both the U.S. Senate and our country.

Democrats to Hold Senate Floor All Night on Sessions

Looks like we’re in for another long night… Senate Democrats are going to use every minute of the allowed additional debate time to stall a vote on Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be the new Attorney General. Under Senate rules, there can be a maximum of 30 hours of final debate once cloture is invoked — that happened earlier today 52-47 — and Democrats will do that, forcing a delay on the Sessions confirmation vote until tomorrow.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) kicked things off this afternoon and stated his intention to vote against Sessions, while reinforcing the idea that the nominee is simply unable to stand up to Donald Trump.

“We need a nonpartisan Attorney General with the independence, judgment and backbone to stand up to a president when his actions are illegal or unjust. Senator Sessions is an able politician, he’s been an able representative of his state of Alabama, but he is not the right person to serve as Donald Trump’s Attorney General.

“The Justice Department’s motto, ‘Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur,’ refers to an Attorney General who prosecutes on behalf of justice. Based on his record and his responses to questions over the past few weeks, I am not confident Senator Sessions would be such an Attorney General. I cannot support his nomination. And the I will vote against it.”

Expect to hear much more of the same — all night long.

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