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.