Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have boycotted votes to approve the nomination of Tom Price as health and human services secretary and Steve Mnuchin as treasury secretary, denying Republicans the quorum needed to advance the nominees through committee. From the Huffington Post:
Explaining the boycott, Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the two nominees “misled the public and held back important information about their backgrounds.”
“Until questions are answered, Democrats believe the committee should not move forward with either nomination. […] This is about getting answers to questions, plain and simple. Ethics laws are not optional, and nominees do not have a right to treat disclosure like a shell game,” he added.
With their plans to quickly confirm Trump’s nominees upended, Senate Republicans were outraged, suggesting even that they’d consider changing committee rules to eliminate the need for a minority member to be present.
The Democrats allege that new reports on Price revealing that the congressman had bought stocks from a pharmaceutical company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, at a special discounted rate in 2016 prove that Price lied in his testimony to the committee. Mnuchin has also come under fire for telling the Senate Finance Committee that OneWest, the bank he led as CEO from 2009 to 2015, did not engage in the robo-signing of foreclosure and bankruptcy documents. Court filings have shown that the bank did.
The boycott wasn’t the only unusual action Democrats took in the Senate on Tuesday. The Washington Post reports that Democrats on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee attempted to stall a vote advancing Betsy DeVos’ nomination to the full Senate. DeVos was cleared out of the committee late Tuesday morning.