If you are a human with eyes and ears, you may have heard a little something about Trump’s cabinet picks. It’s been a slow process of nominating corporate leaders to head agencies whose missions they fundamentally disagree with. Take, for example, Scott Pruitt, a man who Trump tapped to head the Environmental Protection Agency who is currently part of a group suing the very same agency.
At this point, these men and women are only nominees. Congress still has to confirm them. In the past, a nominee had to be confirmed by a 60-vote majority in the Senate, but legislation passed by the Democrats to expedite confirmations means that now, it only requires 51 votes. With a 54-44 Republican majority, this is an uphill battle.
But just because Democrats can’t block these confirmations doesn’t mean they are powerless to stop them; anyone who opposes the nomination of any cabinet pick has the ability to force Senate Majority Leader McConnell to hold “procedural votes” and take up as much as 30 hours of debate for each position.
This means a couple of things:
- It means the Senate would be forced to review, and seriously consider, these nominees and their backgrounds in their entirety.
- And it means that, given this information, each and every one of our representatives will be on the record voting either for, or against a cabinet pick.
Senate Democrats have already stated that they plan on slowing down the confirmation process for at least four of Trump’s picks, but I want to talk about one who I think is particularly *problematic* and whose nomination is already causing some controversy:
Jeff Sessions, tapped for Attorney General of the United States. His name may sound familiar because of that one time he was denied a federal judgeship due to allegations of racism.
Now, all eight Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have already pledged to hold hearings on Jeff Sessions, but I think we need to do more; I think we need to tell our Senators that we will be watching how they vote.
If you need more convincing, check out a pretty compelling list of things Sessions could influence as Attorney General. Now, think of an America where a man with a history of racism is responsible for interpreting and enforcing immigration law, surveillance, police misconduct, voting rights, and other civil rights issues (including LGBT rights).
If you’re still on the fence, consider what it means to appoint someone with that kind of history to be a top advisor to the President of our country. Does the term “institutional racism” ring any bells?
I’m picking my battles here. If you think I’m ignoring some other, seriously flawed candidates, it’s because I am (for now). Jeff Sessions is nominated to serve as the head of an agency that could fundamentally change the landscape of how we protect civil rights and enforce equality. But while he can do the most damage, we can also make the greatest difference here–Opposition is mounting, and momentum is in our favor. Let’s get to writing!
In addition to writing to your representative, consider signing ACLU’s petition calling on Congress to “include a comprehensive review of his voting record and history of statements” in their hearing.
Unsure of what a letter should look like? Check out my resources page for tips on how to figure out who to write, what to say, and how best to say it.