GOP slows pace of confirmation hearings

As I noted Friday, the GOP launched an aggressive schedule for confirmation hearings, probably in the hope that it would limit Democrats’ ability to push back on each and every nominee. However it seems that schedule was too aggressive as some of the paperwork for the nominees was not complete. Now hearings for two of the nominees have been pushed back. From the Hill:

Republicans had originally scheduled five hearings for Wednesday but pushed back committee appearances for Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Trump’s pick for CIA chief, to Thursday and Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Education secretary, to next week.

A third nominee, Andy Puzder, was scheduled to have his confirmation hearing for Labor Secretary next week. That hearing has now been pushed back to February.

“This new hearing schedule is a very good first step, but we still have a ways to go,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said. On Monday, Sen. Schumer issued a warning that, unless the pace slowed down, Democrats would drag out the process, potentially adding several days to each hearing. From Politico:

Democrats cannot stop Trump’s Cabinet with filibusters, thanks to a rules change they pushed through in 2013, but they can prolong the process for weeks by forcing the GOP to burn through extra time before final floor votes are scheduled. Schumer suggested that such a delay could be in the offing.

“To spend an extra day or two on each nominee; even if it takes several weeks to get through them all in order to carefully consider their nominations…that’s well worth it,” he said.

Schumer made news over the last couple days by highlighting a letter Mitch McConnell had sent in 2009 asking that President Obama’s nominees not receive a hearing until the FBI and the Office of Government Ethics had been given a chance to complete their background review. Schumer sent the same letter back to McConnell asking the Republicans do the same now.

However, Politico points out that McConnell never received a response to his letter in 2009. Also, McConnell’s letter came after the GOP had already confirmed seven Obama nominees. Sen. Schumer’s failed to explain why GOP nominees should be treated differently than Obama’s first wave of nominees, only saying, “these nominees raise particular concerns.”