Last week, Congress came back and focused on confirming some of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees. The most contentious nomination was Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Before the vote, Senate Democrats used all 30 hours of debate to discuss their opposition to DeVos. On Tuesday, she was confirmed 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie breaking vote. This was the first time the vice president has ever broken a tie on the confirmation of a cabinet member.
Next was the confirmation vote for the Attorney General position. Senate Democrats again used debate time to oppose Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-AL) confirmation. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was reprimanded by the Senate for trying to read a Coretta Scott King letter from 1986 that spoke against Sessions’ nomination as a federal judge. After the incident, many Senate Democrats used their debate time to read the same letter on the floor; these senators were not reprimanded. Sessions was eventually confirmed in a 52-47 vote.
On Friday, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) was confirmed and sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Debate continues on the nomination of Steve Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary.
The Trump Administration experienced a blow last week when the 9th Circuit of Appeals ruled against the Trump’s executive order temporarily banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries and all refugees from entering the United States. The circuit upheld a Seattle court ruling that blocked the implementation of the law. In the unanimous decision, the three judges rejected the administration’s argument that the courts could not challenge the executive order. President Trump was not happy about the decision and sent a tweet saying he will continue to fight in court.