Earlier this week, we recapped the flurry of confirmation activity we expected during the week of February 6th-10th. Congress barnstormed through a series of contentious confirmation votes.
On Tuesday, the Secretary of Education nominee, Betsy DeVos, was confirmed by a slim 51-50 vote in the Senate with Vice President Pence casting the tie breaking vote. The following day, Senator Sessions was confirmed almost entirely along party lines with a 52-47 vote to have him lead the Justice Department as Attorney General. In a procedural move, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prevented Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) from reading a letter opposing Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship written by civil rights icon Coretta Scott King to the U.S. Senate back in 1986; McConnell invoked Rule 19 of the Senate Rules. The rule, which states that ‘No senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator,’ is rarely invoked and thus drew widespread criticism. Unsurprisingly, the procedural silencing only drew wider attention to the now famous letter.
On Wednesday, the President’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, told Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that he found the President’s comments on the judiciary both “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” Senate Democrats, however, continue to cast doubt over Gorsuch’s ability to be an independent judicial check on the President’s authority.
Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), on Friday, was confirmed by a vote of 52-47 to become Secretary of Health and Human Services. Following extensive debates over ethics and Price’s investments in healthcare companies he had jurisdiction over as a member of Congress, Republicans called the early morning roll-call vote at about 2:00 AM. He was sworn in later that morning by Vice President Mike Pence.
Lastly, the ninth circuit federal court of appeals unanimously ruled to uphold a lower court’s ruling blocking President Trump’s travel ban from seven majority-Muslim countries. The lawsuit was filed by the Washington state Attorney General, and is a significant setback for a Presidency that’s only three weeks old.
Yesterday, Congressman David Joyce (R-OH), joined by a bipartisan group of colleagues, including Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and Kathy Castor (D-FL), introduced the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2017, (H.R.959).
Since the start of the 115th Congress, ANA has been working with key champions in the House to re-introduce the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act, legislation that incentivizes nurses practicing in rural and medically underserved communities, and supports advanced nursing education, diversity grants, National Nurse Service Corp, nurse faculty loan forgiveness, and geriatric education.
ANA is currently working with its Senate champions to introduce companion legislation in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we’ll be busy gathering cosponsors and pushing to advance the bill.
Last year we successfully passed the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act in the House but ran out of time in the Senate.
Help us push these critical programs over the finish line by contacting your Members of Congress.
This week in Washington will be filled with both cabinet and judicial confirmation-related activities. On Tuesday, the Senate will vote on Betsy DeVos’ nomination to become Secretary of Education. Following a frenetic week of both grassroots organizations mobilizing against her nomination and Republican defections by Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, it appears that DeVos is likely to win a close confirmation with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. Vice President Pence is ascribed the role of President of the U.S. Senate under Article One of the Constitution, and thus can cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate. This would be the first time a cabinet nominee is confirmed by a Vice Presidential tie-breaking vote.
Later in the week (likely on Thursday), Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will also have his own confirmation vote to become the nation’s Attorney General. Sessions’ vote was strategically timed to come after DeVos so that Republicans could count on his vote to confirm her nomination. Though Sessions’ confirmation will also be close, he will likely be confirmed along party lines with a 52-48 Senate Republican majority. Health and Human Services cabinet nominee, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), may also have his confirmation vote later this week. The earliest his vote could take place is Friday morning.
Labor Secretary Nominee, and current CKE Restaurants CEO, Andrew Puzder, is scheduled to have his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday following four separate delays by the committee of jurisdiction. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions refused to consider his nomination until all of his paperwork was completed and submitted to the Office of Government Ethics.
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is also barnstorming the Senate this week in the hopes that he too can win Senate confirmation later this spring. He’s scheduled to meet with some fourteen sitting Senators, most of whom are red-state Democrats who may control his confirmation fate.
On Wednesday, the House Democratic Caucus will head to Baltimore for a three-day retreat. Democrats are expected to hammer out a messaging and legislative strategy for the 115th Congress. They’ve branded the retreat with the theme “Fighting for All Americans.”
Stay tuned for more updates from Capitol Hill later this week.