When a president leaves office, so does everyone they appointed. This means Donald Trump has more than 4,000 vacancies to fill in the executive branch. Out of these, 1,242 of these appointees require the approval of the Senate before they can take office. This is just one of the “checks and balances” that the Constitution uses to prevent one branch of the government from getting too strong.
But when you play party politics like the Republicans do, Senate approval is less of a check and more of a rubber stamp. After getting a majority, they’ve voted en bloc to ensure Trump’s nominees pass. Where they’ve needed more than a simple majority, they’ve changed procedural rules to do away with that inconvenience.
It’s an uphill battle for Democrats in the Senate, for sure. Being outnumbered 52-48 and pitted against a majority party willing to do anything in its power to grab what they want, Democrats have their work cut out for them. But even in the face of shockingly incompetent nominees and blatant conflicts of interest, a lot of Senate Democrats – even traditionally stalwart liberals – have flopped.
Here are the Senators who have shown themselves to be good, bad, or spineless so far in the confirmation process.
Six of Trump’s cabinet nominees have been confirmed in the Senate, so far. Not one single Democrat in the chamber has voted against all of them. The closest has been New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, who’s voted against five of them. Her only “yes” vote has been for Nikki Haley to be the Ambassador to the United Nations.
Only six other Democrats have voted against four of Trump’s nominees. These are New Jersey’s Cory Booker, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, both of New Mexico, Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, of Vermont and Massachusetts, respectively.
Unlike the spineless, who seem to be unable to put up a fight, The Bad seem more unwilling. We knew the Republicans would all fall in line behind whoever Trump nominated. That doesn’t excuse them. They’re all here, in The Bad. Except for, shockingly, Rand Paul.
But it’s not all Republicans, here. Three Democrats have voted to confirm all six of Trump’s cabinet picks, so far. These are North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, and Virginia’s Mark Warner. Even Mitch McConnell has done better than these three. He voted “present” in Elaine Chao’s nomination to be Secretary of Transportation.
That puts everyone else among The Spineless.
Chief among this legion of Senators are some of what used to be the strongest Democratic Senators on The Hill. Tim Kaine went from running for Vice President to nodding his head to all of Trump’s cabinet picks except Rex Tillerson. Likewise with California’s Dianne Feinstein.
This makes Hillary Clinton’s running mate no more liberal than Kentucky’s Rand Paul. Paul voted against Mike Pompeo becoming the Director of the CIA. While this showing of potential from the Republican side of the aisle almost put Paul among The Good, he’s also been a long critic of Trump. After asking which was better, electing Trump or being forced to listen to Nickelback for four years, voting for five out of six of his cabinet choices still doesn’t get him out of the ranks of the Spineless.
Have you voted in our poll yet!? Elect Trump? Or be forced to listen to Nickelback for four years? https://t.co/LyT5rYBMgX
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) January 30, 2016