Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, flanked by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, talks to reporters following a closed-door meeting at the Capitol in Washington, March 15, 2016. 
Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP

GOP ‘unmoved’ by controversies surrounding Trump’s cabinet picks

Last month, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) was celebrating Donald Trump for having assembled a “dream team” cabinet. It was a curious choice of words – because one would have to be asleep to be impressed with the motley crew the president-elect has assembled.

Some of Trump’s choices appear to have no idea what their job entails. Others have no relevant experience or skills. Some are burdened by damaging controversies. Others are overtly hostile towards the work done by the departments they’ll soon lead. Senate Democrats set out to prove that many of Trump’s nominees had no business being chosen in the first place, and by and large, the senators succeeded.

But nearly all – if not literally all – of Trump’s choices will be confirmed anyway, because as Politico noted yesterday, the Senate Republican majority doesn’t appear to care.
Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks have been battered by revelations of questionable stock trades and potentially undocumented employees. They’ve undergone rocky confirmation hearings and faced criticism from Democrats that they’re unfit to lead a major federal agency.

Consider Republicans unmoved.

From the top tiers of GOP leadership to rank-and-file committee members, Republicans are fanning out en masse to defend Trump’s Cabinet selections.
Though filibusters are no longer an option for cabinet nominees, the GOP majority is fairly narrow in a 52-48 Senate. If only a handful of Republican senators balk at an unqualified choice, the Trump White House will have to scramble to find someone else.

But that handful doesn’t appear to exist. Politico’s piece added, “[T]here’s no sign that those GOP defections are coming.”

There’s no great mystery here – partisan loyalties and tribal instincts dominate in Washington to a degree unseen in generations – but Republicans aren’t actually doing anyone, including their allies, any favors.

Vox’s Matthew Yglesias had a good piece on this yesterday.
[T]he GOP is only sabotaging itself by allowing Trump to draft this C-list roster. The president can’t be everywhere simultaneously – an effective Cabinet is how he extends his reach, influences more people, and gets more done. Rushing weak candidates through is a good way to put points on the board, but only weakens their own administration in the long run.
It’s an easily overlooked aspect of the broader fight. Trump chose some cringe-worthy nominees for important and powerful government posts, and Senate Republicans are prepared to go along because Trump is on the same team.

But in practical terms, unqualified and unprepared personnel struggle to do a good job, which means the Trump administration will be led by people who’ll very likely fail. Senate Republicans don’t want to hurt the incoming president’s feelings by rejecting his selections, but it’s in everyone’s interest for them to tell Trump, “This is the wrong person for the job; let’s talk about some better alternatives.”