Senate GOP suspends rules, advances Trump picks without Democrats

February 1, 2017

Republicans who lead a key Senate panel suspended their own rules Wednesday and advanced President Trump’s picks to lead the Treasury and Health and Human Services departments unilaterally, saying they had no choice after Democrats boycotted committee votes for a second day in a row.

The Senate Finance Committee advanced Steven Mnuchin to lead Treasury and Rep. Tom Price as health secretary on a pair of 14-0 votes without any Democrats present.

The votes were supposed to occur on Tuesday. Yet Democrats derailed the markup by refusing to show up, which meant the panel didn’t have the quorum needed to do business. At least one Democrat must be present.

They failed to show for the rescheduled markup early Wednesday, leading to the rule change.

“They have nobody to blame but themselves,” Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, said.

Democrats said Mr. Price, Georgia Republican, wasn’t straight with them about his ability to secure stock in an Australian medical company at a discounted price for select investors, even as he served as a leading health policy guru in Congress.