Incoming Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says he regrets a 2013 decision by Senate Democrats, known as the “nuclear option” to decrease the number of senators needed to confirm Cabinet picks from 60 to 51 votes.
“I wish it hadn’t happened,” Schumer said in an interview with CNN, about the move that was triggered by former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
The move is dubbed the “nuclear option” because by altering the filibuster rules it stands to blow up bipartisan Senate relations.
“I argued against it at the time,” Schumer said. “I said both for Supreme Court and in Cabinet should be 60, because on such important positions there should be some degree of bipartisanship. I won on Supreme Court, lost on Cabinet. But, that’s what we have to live with now.”
Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the new Senate which means they already have the number needed to confirm Trump’s nominees without the Democrats. However, the Democrats have still vowed to fight against the picks. Schumer and his fellow Democratic senators will aggressively target eight of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks, which he refers to as “rigged.”
“If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a fair hearing process, they’re sorely mistaken,” Schumer said recently. He added, “President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged cabinet with nominees that would break key campaign promises and have made billions off the industries they’d be tasked with regulating.”Among the eight Cabinet picks Schumer and the Democrats plan to focus their efforts on are Trump’s secretary of state pick Rex Tillerson; his choice for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL); treasury secretary pick Steve Mnuchin.
According to the Washington Post, retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Trump’s pick for defense secretary; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Trump’s nominee to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and former Marine general John Kelly, tapped to lead the Department of Homeland Security, are absent from the Democrats’ “hit list.”