On Confirming Nominee Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education: 51-50 Yea
Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have both come out against DeVos, but every remaining Republican, including those rumored to be wavering like Moran and Fischer, are yeas. With the leapfrog initiated by McConnell, Senator Jeff Sessions will vote for Mrs. DeVos before he is confirmed as AG, bringing the yeas and nays to 50-50. Vice President Mike Pence will then cast the tie-breaking vote, and Mrs. DeVos will be confirmed as the Secretary of Education…
Unless Democrats and activists manage to pick one more Republican off.
On Confirming Nominee Jeff Sessions as Attorney General: 52-47 Yea
Senator Jeff Sessions firmed up full conference support with the help of colleague Susan Collins, the very same moderate Republican opposing Betsy DeVos. Joining her from the middle, as it were, is West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, the only Democrat thus far to declare support for his fellow Senator.
There were four remaining Democrats who had NOT made their intentions clear until this afternoon, but Donnelly came out against Sessions shortly before the advancement vote, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota all voted against the advancement of the nomination today on the floor.
On Confirming Nominee Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator: 53-41-5 Yea
Public declarations make the guesswork for some nominees a lot easier, and Mr. Pruitt received a mountain of nays back in December. Protection of the environment remains a signature issue of the Democratic Party, so most of your rank-and-file will likely vote against Scott Pruitt, who made a name for himself by suing the EPA. Nevertheless, a unified Republican conference will be joined by at least two Democrats in his confirmation, by our estimates:
Senator Joe Manchin has publicly declared his support for Mr. Pruitt, and Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s language describing her meeting with the nominee reads in stark contrast to the press releases issued by Democrats already naying. Mr Pruitt has a leg up on Secretary of Education Nominee Betsy DeVos: he has at least one proudly supportive Democrat and a second . We know that some of the names left unknown may be a bit surprising, but until public statements on the nominee are released by Senators like Sherrod Brown or Bill Nelson, we leave them in that status for our estimates.
On Confirming Nominee Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services- 51-48 YEA
Georgia Congressman Tom Price’s advocacy for repealing-and-replacing the Affordable Care Act is well known, and we anticipate that the vote to confirm him as the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services will serve an analog to the Republican/Democratic divide on the law. When a budget blueprint hit the Senate floor accounting for its elimination earlier this year, all 48 Democrats and Independents caucusing with them opposed it. Using this and previous trial votes, we have estimated that the Congressman will be confirmed by the Republican majority, but will likely receive no Democratic support on the floor:
ACA repeal has been brought up repeatedly, and Congressional Democrats have opposed it every time. Several red state Democrats have voiced support for replacing ACA, but without such legislation up and ready on the table, and with the ACA’s status as a signature achievement of their Party, one it pushed through in the face of major electoral losses, we’d be shocked if any of these Senators surprise us. When Senator Joe Manchin, who supports Rex Tillerson, Senator Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt, and Rick Perry in their respective confirmations, expresses concerns about the nominee, this is almost certainly going to be a party-line vote.
On Confirming Nominee Steve Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury- 51-48 YEA
In addition to Tom Price, Democratic Committee Members boycotted and ultimately failed to stop the advancement of nominee Steve Mnuchin, President Trump’s pick to head the Treasury. Mr. Mnuchin’s tenure at One West Bank came under particular scrutiny from Democrats, who referred to the operation as a “foreclosure factory”, and no Democrat voted to advance his nomination when brought before the Senate floor last week. Still, with no Republican Senator signalling a rejection like we’ve seen from Collins with DeVos or possibly McCain with Mulvaney, we expect the whole Republican Conference will vote to confirm.