The Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee have decided to refuse to appear at meetings in order to slow down the nominations of Congressman Tom Price for HHS and Steven Mnuchin for Treasury. Senate rules require one member of the minority party to be present in order to have a quorum. Senator Johnny Isakson is not amused.
The Senate has long been the body that moves slowly and cooly, as their six year terms presumably given members a long term view of politics. Senior members have lived long enough to know what goes around, comes around. It’s a body where relationships often matter as much as politics.
I’m told by a top Hill insider that Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) told Finance Chairman Orin Hatch (R-Utah) on Sunday that there would be no boycott. Add this to Chuck Schumer backtracking on his promises on the timing of CIA Director Pompeo’s vote, and you now have a huge vacuum of trust developing in the US Senate. To add insult to injury, Schumer also just voted against Elaine Chao for Transportation Secretary. She’s been a member of a cabinet before as Labor Secretary under Bush. The only explanation is that she’s the wife of Schumer’s counterpart, Mitch McConnell. This is not a pleasant path we’re taking, and it is one that will be difficult to return from.
In the above video, Senator Isakson, one known to work across the aisle and vote based on character, is clearly flummoxed by the Democrat’s chosen path of character assassination and party line votes over ideology. His remarks are as follows:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership, and thank you for the role model you are for all of us … because you’re here and working, which is where all of us should be.
“I hoped we’d be voting soon, but I know we are not voting because the Democrats are boycotting the meeting and that’s a shame, but I will take the opportunity to say this.
“We have two nominees for the cabinet who are great individuals and deserve the up-or-down vote by each member of the committee. You can either vote ‘yes’ or you can vote ‘no,’ but not voting is not good.
“We’ve seen what happens in our country when we don’t have people in important places, so confirmation is an important process and our responsibility of members of the Senate.
“In terms of the Finance Committee, the secretary of Health and Human Services is a critical appointment to me, as all the members of the committee know. … I think [Tom Price] will be a great secretary of HHS.
“Interestingly enough, I had Marilyn Tavenner in my office this morning to discuss healthcare issues. She did such a great job [as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services]. Sylvia Burwell has done a great job at HHS. I was proud to vote for both Democrat appointees.
“And now that we have a Republican appointee, it is a shame that because of partisan politics, which I guess is the reason, that we are not allowed to have a vote on a man who has an outstanding record as a physician, an outstanding record as a member of Congress, an outstanding record as a private citizen of the United States of America, someone who is an outstanding family man and a great individual. Tom Price is the right man, at the right time, for the right job.
“When people complain to us about not getting to Obamacare yet, one of the reasons we’re not is because we don’t have a secretary of HHS. And the longer we have boycotts of meetings, the longer that’s protracted, the longer it’s going to be before we can get the replacement for Obamacare done.
“So, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your leadership. I appreciate you giving me the chance to say something. I’m here. I’m ready to vote and do my job. I hope the Democrats will come to the table soon and do the same thing.”
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