We reported yesterday that John McCain was a likely no for Congressman Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s nominee for the Office of Management and Budget. Well, Mr. McCain has some potential company, and we were reminded of some careful phrasing employed by several other Senators back when his nomination was moved out of committee.
CNN reported last night that Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran is also concerned about defense spending, the reasoning Senator McCain gave for likely opposing confirmation. While we normally default to the “they’ll come home eventually” when nominees are being discussed pre-committee, when we are this close to a floor vote (cloture is this morning), Senators that start to waffle become unpredictable. Senator Cochran has approved every other nominee President Trump set forth, with little noise otherwise. His wobble reduces Mulvaney’s firm ayes to 50…assuming no other Senator also decides to make an example out of the tea party favorite.
Enter Susan Collins, who has already voted against a nominee she felt uncomfortable with, Betsy DeVos. While we haven’t heard much noise out of the other Republican who opposed the education nominee (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska), we have heard the Maine Senator is still on the fence. This isn’t a likely no, like with McCain, and we wouldn’t be shocked if she and Cochran still vote for cloture today. But if either of them join McCain and vote no starting today, the three of them combined could effectively sink a nominee.
Unless the Democrat who has voted for more of President Trump’s nominees than any other, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, decides to help. He is the only Democrat we have listed as a maybe as of the time of this writing (2/15 @ Midnight), and the scenario where Republicans defect but he crosses over, while unlikely, cannot be ruled out. Manchin has been more than willing to stick his neck out there for a number of nominees that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is apoplectic over. Losing the opportunity to nix a Trump nominee because of his defection may be too much for many who have, for now, accepted that he’s the best they can get out of a state that voted more than two-to-one for the President.