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Week two of Cabinet confirmation hearings: What to expect

Trump Cabinet's differing views
Trump Cabinet's differing views 02:55

One week of confirmation hearings is down -- and there are just a few more days to go before President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in.

With President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration just three days away, another round of his top Cabinet nominees are about to undergo their confirmation hearings in the Senate this week.

As a reminder, Congress can’t officially confirm Mr. Trump’s nominees until after he’s sworn in, but senators can hold hearings to help expedite the process and get nominations ready for Inauguration Day -- which is why this coming week has such a packed schedule of hearings.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, recently told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Republicans’ goal is to have at least seven Cabinet picks confirmed on  the day Mr. Trump is sworn in -- the same number that President Obama had in 2009.

Each nominee will first have a hearing with the Senate committee that has oversight responsibilities for his or her department. Once the committee holds a vote and approves the nominee, that candidate will be voted on by the full Senate.

Here’s a cheat sheet from CBS News for when these confirmation hearings will take place and what to expect:


U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke Alex Wong/Getty Images

Ryan Zinke (Interior Secretary)

Zinke, currently a congressman from Montana, will appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee at 2:15 p.m. ET.

The interior secretary nominee is a former Navy SEAL commander and a decorated Iraq veteran; he just won his second term in Congress this November.

Zinke is the first Navy SEAL elected to Congress and is the sole Montana congressman in the House. He supported Mr. Trump early on during the campaign, and he met with the president-elect Monday at Trump Tower.

President-elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos Drew Angerer, Getty Images

Betsy DeVos (Education Secretary)

Betsy DeVos, a prominent charter school advocate from Michigan, will appear before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET.

DeVos, currently the chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group. Her critics have said her stated positions pose a threat to the country’s public school system.

She and her husband also head up the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, which has supported projects like the West Michigan Aviation Academy, a public charter school in Grand Rapids and the Compass Film Academy, a Christian film school in Michigan. The billionaire DeVos family also owns the NBA team, the Orlando Magic. Dick DeVos’ father founded Amway.


South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Nikki Haley (U.N. Ambassador)

Haley, who’s currently the governor of South Carolina, will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 10 a.m. ET.

At the 193-country United Nations, Haley would serve as the voice of the Trump administration -- a role which, in the age of Mr. Trump’s frequent tweets on foreign policy, could be a challenging one.

Haley, a 44-year-old Republican, is serving her second term in the South Carolina statehouse and is seen as a rising star in the Republican Party. She is also the daughter of immigrants, from India. 

She’s traveled internationally in recent years to negotiate global economic deals pertinent to her state, but the U.N. post would be Haley’s first foray into both the federal government and foreign affairs more broadly.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Scott Pruitt (Environmental Protection Agency Administrator)

Pruitt, who is the current attorney general of Oklahoma, will appear before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at 10 a.m. ET.

As the top lawyer for the state of Oklahoma, Pruitt has spent considerable time pursuing legal action against the agency he’s now been nominated to lead. He joined with other state attorneys general to sue the Obama administration over its policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at power plants as well as to contest the EPA’s regulations on methane.

A climate skeptic who’s written that the issue of climate change is “far from settled,” Pruitt will also likely get questions about his stance on that issue -- which will represent a sharp break from the current administration’s view.

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price REUTERS

Tom Price (Health and Human Services Secretary)

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will question Price, the Georgia congressman, at a 10 a.m. ET hearing.

As the prospective head of the federal agency dealing with the Affordable Care Act -- and as Congress debates its options for repealing and replacing the law -- Price’s hearing will likely focus on his views toward President Obama’s signature healthcare law.

Price will also surely be asked about the future of Medicare and Medicaid under a Republican-led Congress and a GOP White House -- House Speaker Paul Ryan has proposed privatizing Medicare, while Mr. Trump said during the campaign that he did not plan to touch the program.

Wilbur L. Ross Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of W. L. Ross & Company REUTERS

Wilbur Ross (Commerce Secretary)

Ross, 79, will appear before the Senate Commerce Committee at 10 a.m. ET.

He is the billionaire chairman of WL Ross & Co., an investment firm that specializes in corporate restructurings. He was supportive of Mr. Trump’s campaign and often appeared on business news shows to explain Mr. Trump’s positions.

Ross will certainly get questions about his position on trade deals, since the Trump transition team has indicated that Mr. Trump will put Ross in charge of trade policy. Like Mr. Trump (and unlike most of the Republican Party), Ross favors withdrawing from or renegotiating free trade agreements.

He may also face inquiries about whether any of his vast financial holdings could constitute a conflict of interest once he’s officially in the post.


Republican presidential candidate, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry AP

Rick Perry (Energy Secretary)

Perry, the former governor of Texas and former 2016 hopeful, will appear at a hearing with the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources at 10 a.m. ET.

Ironically, Perry’s infamous “oops” moment during the 2012 election was because of the Energy Department: it was one of the three departments he was attempting to say he’d like to abolish. (The others were Commerce and Education.)

As the former governor of Texas, Mr. Perry ran a state with significant industries in coal, gas and wind energy -- but he has little experience with nuclear energy, which is a big part of the Energy Department’s responsibilities.

Steven Mnuchin, who served as the national finance chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Steven Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary)

The Senate Finance Committee will grill Mnuchin at 10 a.m. ET.

Mnuchin, who served as the national finance chairman of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, is no stranger to the finance world: he spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs.

Given Mr. Trump’s anti-Wall Street stance during the campaign, Mnuchin will likely get questions about how the Trump administration will position itself on financial issues. He’s also gotten criticism from anti-Wall Street Democrats about his role in the 2008 financial crisis -- particularly Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), who called him “the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis.”


After this week, the majority of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet picks will have received committee hearings.

Last week, Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, transportation secretary nominee Elaine Chao, homeland security secretary John Kelly, defense secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis, CIA director nominee Mike Pompeo, housing and urban development secretary nominee Ben Carson all appeared before the respective Senate committees for questioning.

But there are still more than a half-dozen top-level nominees that will need to be confirmed by the Senate -- that may not receive hearings until after Inauguration Day.

So who’s left?

Confirmation hearings have yet to be scheduled for Andy Puzder (labor secretary nominee), Dan Coats (director of national intelligence nominee), Robert Lighthizer (U.S. trade representative nominee), Linda McMahon (Small Business Administration nominee), Mick Mulvaney (OMB director nominee) and David Shulkin (VA secretary nominee).

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