The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 16-7 to confirm Perry as energy secretary, with four Democrats joining committee Republicans to approve him. The committee also approved Rep. Zinke, R-Mont., as interior secretary by a vote of 16-6.
Education secretary designate DeVos was narrowly approved 12-11 by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Linda McMahon won support of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, 18-1.
The nominations of those four candidates will now receive a full Senate vote, and need only a simple majority. All are expected to win confirmation due to the GOP’s 52-48 edge in the upper chamber.
Action in the Senate Finance Committee was more contentious, with panel Democrats refusing to attend Tuesday’s vote on Rep. Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services, and Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary. Democrats left the room arguing that Price and Mnuchin misled senators in prior testimony, and that more information was required before a vote could be taken.
In testimony, Price was grilled by Democrats on ethical issues, including his investments in medical companies while in Congress. Mnuchin was pressed on whether, as chief of One West Bank, he treated homeowners facing foreclosure with fairness. Committee Democrats said Tuesday they sought additional information from Price and Mnuchin before a vote is taken; the walkout will delay a vote.
“[Price] misled Congress and he misled the American people,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Price and Mnuchin “out-and-out lied to your committee.”
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was angered by the Democrats’ action, saying, “I can’t understand why senators, who know we’re going to have these two people go through, can’t support the committee.
“I’m very disappointed in this kind of crap. Some of this is because they just don’t like the president. This is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in my whole time in the United States Senate.”