Senate Democrats haven't been putting up much of a fight against Trump's Cabinet picks
If you spent the last two weeks begging Senate Democrats to block President Donald Trump's clown car of Cabinet nominees, here's some news: It hasn't been working.
As of Wednesday, four of Trump's Cabinet picks have been confirmed by the United States Senate. The Democrats have put up almost zero opposition.
In fact, they've overwhelmingly fallen in line behind Trump's agenda. Just one Democratic senator of the 46 who voted — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) — voted "nay" on the confirmation of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who once described shooting people in wartime as "fun." Only three Democrats and one independent — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — voted "nay" on South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's confirmation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Of the four, Haley seems to diverge the most from Trump ideologically, but she also admitted she doesn't really know what she's doing.
Trump's other two picks saw slightly more Democratic opposition, but not by much. Eleven Democrats voted "nay" on confirming Gen. John F. Kelly — an anti-immigration hardliner who has questioned whether women should serve in the military — as secretary of homeland security. And 30 voted "nay" on Mike Pompeo as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (Connecticut's two senators, both Democrats, did not vote because of travel delays). Pompeo has defended the CIA's use of torture, has appeared on Islamophobic activist Frank Gaffney's radio show and has framed the war on terror as a religious war between Islam and Christianity.
If there was any hope that these Democratic senators would mount a united front against Trump's Cabinet picks, their voting record so far should cast serious doubt. Of particular note is that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer voted "yea" on all four nominees, despite vocally condemning the new president's agenda in public.
"Sen. Schumer is leading the effort to put a spotlight on each and every Cabinet nominee so the American public can hear what these nominees actually believe," Schumer's office told the Village Voice in a statement. "This process has unearthed serious ethical problems with nominees and showcased beliefs that go directly against what the president promised the American people during his campaign. In cases where those stark contrasts are revealed, or those candidates are in opposition to core values, the senator will vote ‘no,’ and urge his Republican colleagues to do the same."
It's unclear what endgame Democrats are working toward by acting as a revolving door for Trump's Cabinet picks. They've grilled most of the nominees pretty hard during confirmation hearings, namely attorney general pick Sen. Jeff Sessions, potential Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt and education secretary pick Betsy DeVos. Democrats even requested a second hearing to question DeVos, whose previous testimony before the Senate was an unmitigated disaster.
And Democrats still have the chance to stop Trump's remaining nominees. Rex Tillerson, the ultimate corporate crony, is still up for secretary of state; potential Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Health and Human Services Department pick Tom Price and housing secretary nominee Ben Carson, Pruitt, Sessions and the host of others form their own little shop of horrors. None of them are good.
But so far, there's not much to feel hopeful about. If this is the political resistance progressives were hoping for, their future looks pretty bleak.