DemDaily: Rounding Out the Cabinet

December 15, 2016

With less than three weeks until the swearing-in of the 115th Congress and the beginning of confirmation hearings, President-elect Trump is close to finalizing his Cabinet nominations.

In addition to the Cabinet, which includes the heads of 15 Executive Department and six "Cabinet Level" positions, approximately 1,270 political appointees require confirmation by the United States Senate.

The Process

While the process for some may take up to six months, the goal is usually to confirm the top posts prior to January 20th when the President-elect officially takes office and the transition period ends.

Donald Trump Jr., who has been conducting cabinet interviews as well as running the Trump Organization

A nomination before the Senate is permitted unlimited debate until two-thirds of the Senate vote to invoke cloture, closing debate. The Senate then calls for a simple majority vote of 51 to confirm, reject or take no action on the nomination.

Until a nominee is confirmed the President may appoint an "acting" Director from within the department. This is usually a longtime, nonpartisan civil servant or member of the previous administration. The Acting Director is only able to hold the position for 300 days, though that mark has never been reached.

Given the Divider in Chief's controversial slate of nominees, the country can expect a grueling debate on the Senate floor and in the court of public opinion.

Recent Cabinet Nominations


Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson
President and CEO of Exxon Mobil. The lifelong business executive's close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has drawn bipartisan criticism. His confirmation is expected to meet with the most opposition.

"Based upon his extensive business dealings .. (and) previous opposition of efforts to impose sanctions on the Russian government, ...I expect the US-Russian relationship to be front and center in his confirmation process."
- South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham

Secretary of the Interior: Ryan Zinke
A Montana first-term Congressman and former Navy SEAL commander, Zinke has a record of protecting of public land. Donald Trump Jr's role in selecting the conservative outdoorsman has drawn criticism.


Secretary of Energy: Rick Perry
Former Texas Governor and presidential candidate, who previously proposed scrapping the Energy Department altogether.

Secretary of Labor: Andrew Pudzer
Chief Executive of CKE Restaurants and a major Trump donor. Pudzer has been a vocal critic of Obama's labor policies and opponent of raising the minimum wage above $9. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka described Pudzer as "a man whose business record is defined by fighting against working people."

Secretary of Homeland Security: John F. Kelly
Retired four-star Marine general whose son was killed in combat in Afghanistan. Kelly was in charge of United States Southern Command and the military jail at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He has taken a tough stance on immigration issues in the past.


Secretary of Defense: James N. Mattis
Retired four star Marine General who led the United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013. General Mattis has publicly criticized President Obama's policies related to China, Afghanistan, the defense budget, and women in combat.

Secretary of Housing & Urban Development: Ben Carson
Well-known neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate. Carson, who supported Trump through the primary had previously dismissed working in the government.

Recent Cabinet Level Nominations
Administrator, Small Business Administration: Linda McMahon
Founder and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, McMahon ran unsuccessfully against Richard Blumenthal for Senate in CT in 2010. She and her husband, Vince, were among Trump's biggest donors.

Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt
Current Oklahoma Attorney General and close ally of the fossil fuel industry. He is currently suing the EPA over the agency's Clean Power Plan, the principal Obama-era policy aimed at reducing US greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.

To Be Determined: Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Trade Representative

If you are leading, or part of, a messaging, petition, online or grassroots campaign in opposition to any of the nominees, please contact us and send us your links so we can help get the word out on DemList

Let the games begin.

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Kimberly Scott

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