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Trump Might Not Get His Full Cabinet Right Away -- And So What?

Democrats are reminding us that they intend to slow the approval process for President Trump's Cabinet nominees...
Trump Might Not Get His Full Cabinet Right Away -- And So What?
Image from: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

Democrats are reminding us that they intend to slow the approval process for President Trump's Cabinet nominees:

Democratic senators plan to aggressively target eight of Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees in the coming weeks and are pushing to stretch their confirmation votes into March....

Such delays would upend Republican hopes of quickly holding hearings and confirming most of Trump’s top picks on Inauguration Day....

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that Democrats will home in especially on Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for secretary of state; Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), his pick for attorney general; Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), tapped to lead the Office of Management and Budget; and Betsy DeVos, selected to serve as education secretary.

There’s also Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and oversee changes to Obamacare, who is expected to be attacked by Democrats for his support for privatizing Medicare. Andrew Puzder, a restaurant executive set to serve as labor secretary, will face scrutiny for past comments on the minimum wage, among other policies. Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner set to serve as treasury secretary, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to lead the EPA, will also be the focus of Democratic attacks, aides said.

Which I suppose will be a huge problem for Republicans -- or would be, except for the fact that their plan is to pass a lot of legislation right away and rush it to the new president's desk, a process that doesn't require a Cabinet at all:

For six years, since they took back the House of Representatives, Republicans have added to a pile of legislation that moldered outside the White House. In their thwarted agenda, financial regulations were to be unspooled. Business taxes were to be slashed. Planned Parenthood would be stripped of federal funds. The ­Affordable Care Act was teed up for repeal -- dozens of times.


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When the 115th Congress begins this week, with Republicans firmly in charge of the House and Senate, much of that legislation will form the basis of the most ambitious conservative policy agenda since the 1920s. And rather than a Democratic president standing in the way, a soon-to-be-inaugurated Donald Trump seems ready to sign much of it into law.

The dynamic reflects just how ready Congress is to push through a conservative makeover of government, and how little Trump’s unpredictable, attention-grabbing style matters to the Republican game plan....

In 2012, Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist described the ideal president as “a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen” and “sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”

Congressional Democrats are going to focus on Trump and his team -- and, yes, they're clearly dangerous -- but the immediate danger in the early days of 2017 is going to come from Republicans in the House and Senate. I want to see a Democratic plan for at least slowing the passage of the congressional GOP's wish list, but I don't see one.

And after an election that we've been told was all about the white working class and its discontents, what's the top priority of congressional Republicans?

Perhaps the first thing that will happen in the new Congress is the push for deregulation....

Republicans have chafed for years at a host of rules, many business-related, that President Obama has issued through the regulatory process, and they have been advising the Trump team on which ones should be undone.

“I hear probably more about the strangulation of regulations on business and their growth and their development than probably anything else,” the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, said at a recent forum. “I think if we can provide regulatory relief right away, that can breathe a sigh of relief into the economy.”

In late December, the Obama administration rolled out a major new environmental regulation intended to rein in mountaintop-removal mining. That regulation, one of dozens that Mr. Trump is expected to reverse, is meant to go into effect one day before his inauguration.

But Congress is likely to block it, using the obscure Congressional Review Act, which permits lawmakers to undo new regulations with only 51 Senate votes within the first 60 legislative days of the rules’ completion.

Given time constraints on the Senate floor, members will have to pick some priorities. They are expected to train their sights on a rule that requires oil and gas producers to reduce methane gases, another that requires mining and fossil fuel companies to disclose payments they have made to foreign governments to extract natural resources, and still others that restrict pesticide use.

You thought this election was all about you, Joe Sixpack? You've been suckered. It was all about regulatory relief for the bosses -- who still won't hire you even after they get it. They come first, naturally -- Paul Ryan "hear[s] probably more about" their concerns than yours. Did you really think that he and other Republicans, including Trump, were listening to you?

Democrats might slow up a couple of Cabinet approvals. But even before that process is completed, a huge amount of damage will be done by Republicans. And much of it will barely be discussed in the media. It'll happen before we know it.

Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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