Senate Democrats today staged an en masse boycott of a committee hearing on the Trump administration’s nominees to lead the U.S. Health & Human Services and Treasury Depts., forcing Republicans to delay the votes on Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Steve Mnuchin.
At least 1 Democrat must be present for the Senate Finance committee votes to take place; the boycott was prompted by media reports that Price and Mnuchin misled Congress during testimony before the Senate earlier this year.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the finance panel, called the Democratic boycott “shocking” and “offensive.”
“They’re going to vote no. They’ve made that very clear,” he said to the Republican committee members who made the hearing. “I think they ought to stop posturing and acting like idiots. What’s the matter with the other party? Are they that bitter about Donald Trump?”
Ranking member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Democrats were not ready to consider either nominee.
“We’ve made clear that we need additional information to make these judgments,” he said.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that Price received a privileged offer to buy shares in Australia’s Innate Immunotherapeutics at a discount, contrary to his congressional testimony this month.
Price testified that the stock was “available to every single individual that was an investor at the time.” In fact, he was 1 of fewer than 20 U.S. investors invited last year to buy the discounted shares, the newspaper reported.
“The company is directly contradicting Congressman Price, indicating he didn’t tell the truth. And he misled the Congress and he misled the American people,” Wyden said today.
In Mnuchin’s case,Mnuchin’s former bank, showing that his former bank, OneWest, used automated “robo-signings” to approve mortgages after the former Goldman Sachs executive and OneWest chairman flatly denied those practices to senators.
Barney Keller, a spokesman for Mnuchin’s transition, dismissed the report as “bogus,” saying courts already rejected allegations that a OneWest official’s signings of documents cited in the report were “robo-signings.”
It’s unclear when the committee votes will be held. Wyden spokesman Taylor Harvey ruled out indefinite limbo for the nominees.
“Our hope is we can resolve these issues and continue the markup (voting) soon,” Harvey said.
Material from Reuters was used in this report.