Trump's Most Controversial Nominees Approved
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Politics and Activism

Trump's Most Controversial Nominees Approved

Say hello to Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos

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Trump's Most Controversial Nominees Approved
CNN

This week the U.S. Senate confirmed President Donald Trump's two most controversial nominees to his cabinet: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for Attorney General and Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary.

The votes come after weeks of Democrats vowing to sink their nominations and attempting to peel away GOP votes. Both of the nominees were narrowly sworn into office with DeVos's nomination leading to the first time in history that a Vice President has had to cast a tie breaking vote on a cabinet nominee.

Sessions, an Alabama Senator, was one of Trump's first cabinet nominees announced after he won the election. Sessions had been the first senator to endorse Trump during the Republican nomination. Sessions quickly ran into trouble when his critics began to point to the fact that he had lost a 1986 confirmation vote to become a federal judge due to alleged racist comments he had made years prior.

According to an African American lawyer that Sessions had worked with, Sessions had referred to him as "boy" and had told him that he thought that the KKK was "ok."

Sessions has denied the allegations and made that clear during his confirmation hearings.

"I detest the Klan." he said.

The plot thickened later in the week when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was reprimanded by the Senate for reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King, the late wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that expressed her opposition for Sessions to be made a federal judge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell officially reprimanded her under Rule 19, a Senate statute that prevents senators from impugning the honor of others.

Warren was refrained from speaking until the vote occurred.

Ultimately, Sessions was confirmed mostly along party lines with moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia joining with the Republicans to vote in favor of Sessions.

The nomination of DeVos also garnered much controversy.

The former Michigan Republican chairwoman and school choice activist drew criticism for her apparent inexperience and the unusual comments that she made during her confirmation hearing, including that guns may be needed to defend schools from grizzly bears.

She was ultimately confirmed 51-50. Two Republican senators, moderates Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against her causing Vice President Mike Pence to step in to cast the tie breaking vote.

Democrats have vowed that they will continue to use procedural moves and filibusters to block other Trump nominees from getting through. So much time has been delayed, that the vote for Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be secretary of Health and Human Services, took place just after midnight.

In order to delay his vote in the Committee on Health, committee Democrats simply didn't show up to the meeting in hopes of delaying the process since at least one Democrat is needed to be present during voting. This attempt was foiled when committee chairman Orrin Hatch simply suspended the rules and the remaining Republicans voted to advance Price's nomination to the floor.

Democrats are now eyeing taking out Trump's upcoming nominees who have confirmation hearings scheduled for next week. Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary and Andrew Puzder for Labor secretary are expected to be grilled over their business records and other ethical questions that are hanging over their heads.

It was revealed last week that Puzder had at one point an illegal immigrant employed as a housekeeper. He has since paid back taxes for it.

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