Senate Democrats signaled disapproval on Tuesday with President Donald Trump’s nominees for the Health and Treasury Departments by boycotting scheduled committee votes.
The two nominees, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., for Health and Human Services and Steve Mnuchin for Treasury, were set to be voted on in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday morning. After a vote in committee, a nominee moves to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. By refusing to show up to hearings, Democrats block nominees from moving forward.
The Democrats say that the nominees lied during their confirmation hearings and cannot continue forward with the process until they answer further questions. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Oh., said Price had lied in his committee hearing regarding a stock sale.
A Wall Street Journal report published Monday details an offer from Australian biomedical company Iannate Immunotherapeutics that allowed Price to buy stock at a discounted price. He received a 12 percent discount on the traded price in June of last year, but denied that it was a “sweatheart deal.” However, the price he paid was not made publicly available to other investors.
“We certainly did the right thing,” Brown told CNN of the Democratic move to skip committee hearings. “These are basically illegal or illicit activities on stock trades for people voting on health care bills and for a guy that was a banker in foreclosure.”
Mnuchin, former chairman and CEO of OneWest Bank, denied in his hearing his company allowed employees to sign mortgage documents en masse without carefully reviewing them first. A report by the Columbia Dispatch published Sunday revealed that OneWest, which was known to be aggressive when it comes to foreclosures, did in fact use the “robo-signing” procedure.
Republicans called the boycott “amazingly stupid” and suggested that the Democrats were acting out because they were bitter Trump won the election.
“This is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in my whole time in the United States Senate,” said Sen. Orin Hatch of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Finance Committee.