It seems each day brings new news of a creative (and controversial) nomination from President-elect Donald Trump.
There’s Scott Pruitt, tapped to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. The attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt is currently suing the EPA.
There’s Linda McMahon, who built her career developing the World Wrestling Entertainment empire with husband Vince. She was nominated to head up the Small Business Administration.
Then there’s Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., selected as attorney general. Sessions was rejected for a federal court judgeship in the 1980s after a series of racial statements came to light.
Of course, our business is focused on the next Department of Labor secretary.
Trump again eschewed the safe choice, nominating fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder. He is sure to be an anathema to the left for his strident opposition of minimum wage hikes and other worker-focused regulations.
Puzder is on record opposing the DOL overtime rules that are currently subjected to a court injunction. He hasn’t spoken on the fiduciary rule, but is likely opposed to that as well.
So what are the odds Puzder, Sessions and the rest of the Trump team are confirmed by the Senate? I did some research and the chances are pretty good.
Yes, the Senate can reject a cabinet pick. But it doesn’t happen often.
John G. Tower is the last cabinet appointee to be voted down, on March 9, 1989. George H.W. Bush selected Tower to be his secretary of defense, but the Senate rejected him by a 53-47 vote. The New York Times reported concerns about “drinking” and “womanizing” associated with Tower.
The Senate rejected nine cabinet picks in its history, but only three since 1868. Coolidge and Eisenhower are other 21st century presidents who suffered losses.
Smooth sailing, right? Not totally.
The esteemed Senate doesn’t like the messy business of outright rejection, which isn't really consistent with its "advise and consent" role. But members are not above dishing out rough treatment that sends a nominee scurrying for the sidelines. And this is a tactic that is becoming more frequent.
Six cabinet nominees have withdrawn sine 1993: three under Clinton, two under Bush and one Obama candidate. Prior to that, only one cabinet nominee – President Lyndon Johnson’s Housing and Urban Development candidate – had withdrawn between 1874 and 1993.
Trump has a big number in his favor: 52. That is the number of seats held by Republicans. A simple majority is all that is required for a cabinet confirmation.
So unless some embarrassing details emerge from the confirmation hearings, I expect that all of Trump’s appointments will be approved by the Senate.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected].
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