January 31,2017

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Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless 202-224-4515

“Extraordinary and Abrupt” Boycott Prolongs Leadership Gap

Unprecedented Boycott Halts Progress of Crucial Economic and Health Nominees

Today, in an unprecedented move in the modern history of the Senate Finance Committee, Committee Democrats boycotted the confirmation votes of two critical cabinet positions – U.S. Treasury Secretary and Health and Human Services Secretary.

In doing so, the Democrats have obstructed the advancement of two cabinet level nominees, and are putting the nation’s economic and healthcare security at risk.  This, despite the fact that both nominees were held to the same bipartisan vetting and hearing process afforded to the Obama Administration’s nominees.

Many have noted the hypocrisy surrounding the delays. 

Here’s a look at what they are saying:

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Democrats had largely signaled they were prepared to vote Tuesday in the Senate Finance Committee against Mr. Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and his pick for health and human services secretary, Rep. Tom Price. But Democrats on the panel later said they would skip the hearing...” (January 31, 2017)

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Democrats blocked planned Senate committee votes on President Donald Trump's picks to be Health and Treasury secretaries on Tuesday, boycotting the session”...an “extraordinary and abrupt postponement”… (January 31, 2017)

CNN: In a surprise turn of events, Senate Democrats announced Tuesday morning that they are boycotting a committee vote on two of President Donald Trump's Cabinet nominees…But minutes after the vote was scheduled to take place, Democrats on the panel convened an impromptu news conference to announce that they refused to participate in the proceeding…” (January 31, 2017)

WASHINGTON TIMES: “The panel’s top-ranking Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, had signaled Monday he was prepared to vote against both nominees. The boycott left a lopsided dais…” (January 31, 2017)

 BUZZFEED: Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the committee, put out a statement on Monday night saying the Democrats had asked for a delay on the Mnuchin vote to attend a vigil that evening, but left the impression they would show up to vote the next day.” (January 31, 2017)

Members of the Committee also voiced their concern for the traditions of the Senate Finance Committee nominations process:

SENATOR PAT ROBERTS (R-KAN.): Democrats should show up to the Finance Committee and vote up or down on Price and Mnuchin. Enough with the juvenile stunts.” (January 31, 2017)

SENATOR JOHNNY ISAKSON (R-GA.): “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…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.” (January 31, 2017)

SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IOWA): “I voted against Secretary Geithner, as did several other Republican members.  But we showed up and allowed the committee to conduct its business quickly, without obstruction.  It’s sad to see the bipartisan tradition of the Finance Committee threatened.” (January 31, 2017)

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY (R-PA.): “Our colleagues on the other side are now devolving to an unprecedented level of rank partisan obstructionism that is completely inappropriate.” (January 31, 2017)