DemDaily: The Confirmation Count

February 9, 2017

As his third week in office comes to a close, President Trump has the fewest confirmed Cabinet picks than the past 11 Presidents combined.

The Cabinet includes the heads of 15 Executive Departments and now seven "Cabinet-level" positions, as well as the Vice President and White House Chief-of-Staff.

The Process

Photo: The Atlantic

  • Submitted first for review by the Senate Committee relevant to the nominee's department, which:
  • Conducts public Confirmation Hearings on the nominee's credentials and policy positions.
  • If a majority of the 21-member committee approves, the nomination is "voted out" of Committee to the full Senate for a "floor" vote.
  • Full Senate Vote: A simple majority (51) is required to confirm. If the vote is tied 50-50, the Vice President casts the tiebreaking vote.

With the first tie-breaking nomination vote in history cast by a Vice President, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary Tuesday. Similarly, a 30 hour gauntlet of speeches by Senate Dems in protest of Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, ended in defeat with his confirmation Wednesday.

The Senate has not formally rejected a Cabinet nominee since President George H.W. Bush's 1989 nomination of John Tower for Defense Secretary, but that does not include those that never make it to Committee Hearings. So far only one of Trump's nominees has dropped out - Vincent Viola, the Donald's pick for Secretary of the Army (non-cabinet), due to business conflicts.

Of the remaining 14 Cabinet or Cabinet-Level posts, Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price is expected to be the most contentious due to investment conflicts of interest.

The Confirmation Count
Confirmed by the US Senate
Hearings Completed Senate Confirmation
Vote Date
Senate Vote Total
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson January 11 February 1 56 in favor
43 against
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly January 10 January 20 88 in favor
11 against
Secretary of Defense James Mattis January 12 January 20 98 in favor
1 against (*Gillibrand)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions January 11 February 8 52 in favor
47 against
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos January 17 February 7 50 in favor (+VP tiebreak)
50 against 
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao January 11 January 31 93 in favor
6 against
CIA Director (non-cabinet) Mike Pompeo January 12 January 23 66 in favor
32 against
U.N. Ambassador (non-cabinet) Nikki Haley January 18 January 24 96 in favor
4 against
Approved by US Senate Committee: Pending Full Senate Vote
Position Nominee Senate Committee  Hearings Completed Committee Vote Date
Secretary, Housing & Urban Development Ben Carson Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs January 12 January 24
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Commerce, Science, & Transportation January 18 January 24
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Energy & Natural Resources January 19 January 31
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke Energy & Natural Resources January 17 January 31
Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin Finance January 19 February 1
Secretary of Health & Human Services Tom Price Finance January 18 February 1
Administrator of the EPA (non-cabinet) Scott Pruitt Environment & Public Works January 18 February 2
Completed Senate Committee Confirmation Hearings: Pending Committee Vote
Position Nominee Senate Committee  Hearings Completed Senate Vote Scheduled
Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin Veterans Affairs February 1 Not yet scheduled
Small Business Administrator (non-cabinet) Linda McMahon Small Business and Entrepreneurship  January 24 Not yet scheduled
Budget Director (non-cabinet) Mick Mulvaney Budget January 24 Not yet scheduled

Remaining Nominees: Committee Hearings awaiting Scheduling
Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue
Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder

Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats
U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer

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Sources: Washington Post, New York Times, The Atlantic

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