Congress

Trump’s Cabinet picks head to Capitol Hill this week. Here’s what you need to know.

In this photo taken Dec. 8, 2016, the Capitol Building as seen in Washington.
In this photo taken Dec. 8, 2016, the Capitol Building as seen in Washington. AP

With less than two weeks until Donald Trump’s inauguration, Congress is heading into a packed schedule, from a slew of hearings for the president-elect’s Cabinet picks to marathon voting sessions as Republicans move to repeal Obamacare.

Here’s what’s coming up this week.

Monday, Jan. 9

Obamacare

The Senate resumes its debate on repealing Obamacare Monday. Republicans are using a budget resolution to fast-track legislation to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. Later in the week, Democrats are expected to offer several amendments, which may result in a marathon series of voting sessions. With Republicans holding 52 of the 100 Senate seats, they should be able to resist any substantive changes.

Tuesday, Jan. 10

Attorney General: Sen. Jeff Sessions

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold the confirmation hearings for Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The former prosecutor is a hard-line conservative on immigration, drugs and gun rights. Sessions, 70, was the first sitting U.S. senator to publicly endorse then-candidate Donald Trump. Civil rights groups have protested Sessions’ nomination, citing his “30-year record of racial insensitivity, bias against immigrants, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights.” Sessions was rejected for a federal courtship in 1986 after allegations surfaced about his making racist and other insensitive remarks. Sessions later won election as Alabama’s attorney general, before he was elected to the Senate in 1996.

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Russian hacking

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will be back on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, answering questions on Russian intelligence activities that interfered in the U.S. election from the Senate Intelligence Panel. He will be joined by CIA Director John Brennan, NSA Director Michael Rogers, and FBI Director James Comey.

Secretary of Homeland Security: John Kelly

Retired Marine John Kelly, who Trump tapped to be his homeland security secretary, will have a hearing in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Kelly, 66, retired earlier this year after serving three years as head of U.S. Southern Command. He sometimes clashed with Obama over women in combat and whether to close the Guantánamo Bay prison.

Wednesday, Jan. 11

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Trump’s nominee to head the State Department on Wednesday.

The CEO of Exxon Mobil will face scrutiny for his close ties with Russia and Vladimir Putin, which go back to the 1990s when Tillerson ran Exxon’s Russian operations. In 2013, Putin awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship, one of Russia’s highest honors for foreigners. Tillerson, 64, lacks formal diplomatic or political experience, which would be unprecedented for a secretary of state in modern times. If Tillerson is nominated he would be fourth in the presidential line of succession.

CIA Director: Rep. Mike Pompeo

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, will be questioned by the Senate Select Comittee on Intelligence on Wednesday. Trump’s pick to lead the CIA is a West Point and Harvard Law School graduate. Pompeo, 53, is a vocal member of the House Select Committee on intelligence and has been a critic of the administration’s policies on Iran and Libya.

Secretary of Transportation: Elaine Chao

Elaine Chao, who Trump tapped to be his transportation secretary, will have a hearing in front of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Chao, 63, served as labor secretary under President George W. Bush and deputy transportation secretary under President George H.W. Bush. Previously, Chao also served as director of the Peace Corps and president and CEO of the United Way of America. She is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos

Trump’s choice to lead the Education Department, Republican mega-donor Betsy DeVos, will have a hearing in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Wednesday.

DeVos, 58, is a strong proponent of school choice. She has never held elected public office or worked as an educator. She has pushed for the expansion of education voucher programs, which give families tax dollars to pay for private and religious schools.

Thursday, Jan. 12

Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross

The private-equity investor billionaire will have a hearing in front of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Thursday. 12. Nicknamed the “king of bankruptcy” by Fortune magazine, Ross, 80, is the chairman of WL Ross & Co, which specializes in purchasing distressed companies.

He helped shape Trump’s economic agenda during the presidential campaign, especially his aggressive stance on renegotiating or withdrawing from free trade agreements. He has called for the United States to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to renegotiate other international agreements. Ross also wants to impose tariffs on U.S. companies that move abroad and try to sell goods back into the country.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson

The retired neurosurgeon who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican primary will have a hearing in front of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Thursday. A few weeks before Trump selected him to join his administration, Carson said he had decided not to join his Cabinet because he felt he lacked government experience.

Carson, 65, worked as the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital for almost three decades until his retirement in 2013. When he nominated him, Trump praised Carson’s “brilliant mind” and said he and his formar rival had discussed an “urban renewal agenda...very much including our inner cities.”

This version changes date of John Kelly’s confirmation hearing to Tuesday.

David Lightman contributed to this report.

Vera Bergengruen: 202-383-6036, @verambergen

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