August 10, 2020

DeVos, Tillerson and Sessions confirmed as members of Trump’s cabinet

By Anandita Mehta

As the Trump administration seeks to dismantle many of former President Barack Obama’s policies, several people have been nominated to enter Trump’s cabinet.

The confirmation process for President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees has been an unusually slow and grueling one, according to NPR.

Trump has, for the most part, chosen Washington outsiders for his team.

Rex Tillerson, the new secretary of state, was the CEO of ExxonMobil, a successful businessman like the president, ABC reported.

He was also a donor to the Republican Party, just like many of the other nominees, according to ABC.

According to Trump, “he has vast experience dealing with all types of foreign governments,” which seems to bolster his qualifications for the position in the president’s eyes, The Atlantic reported.

However, that experience is exactly why he has been scrutinized so heavily by Democrats. His ties to foreign governments include an “Order of Friendship” from Putin in 2012, which, at the time, was seen as alarming to many, The Atlantic reported.

He has still been confirmed with a tight margin: 56 to 43. This is still wider than the votes for Betsy DeVos, but with the most votes against confirmation in Senate history, according to The New York Times.

With such a big divide and the unease with Russia, Tillerson is likely to have a hard time as Secretary of State.  

Sessions has been confirmed as the new Attorney General. (AP Photo)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a former Alabama Senator. He has faced accusations of making racist comments in the ’80s when he was appointed to District Court, CNN reported.

While he has denied the comments, former colleagues have come forth and testified both in denial and in affirmation of his racist behavior, according to CNN.

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren was dismissed as she presented evidence in the form of a letter by Coretta Scott King, the wife of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.,  in a final effort to reject him as attorney general, The New York Times reported.  

As senator, he has made some conservative claims and stances on issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, which senators like Dianne Feinstein found concerning during his hearings, ABC reported.

However, he has claimed that he will uphold the decisions made by the Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage as well as waterboarding, and dismissing Trump’s claims of voter fraud and prosecution of Hillary Clinton, according to ABC.  

He was also one of Trump’s earliest supporters in the campaign trail, supporting him as a surrogate and labeling the campaign a movement, according to ABC.

His current stance is more geared toward fighting violent crime in the U.S., and support of local law enforcement, ABC reported.

With a 52-47 approval from the senate, he, too, will face a difficult time in his sojourn as Attorney General.

DeVos, the Secretary of Education, was sworn in by a 51-50 vote with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.

DeVos is a school choice activist and donor to the Republican Party. She has no experience with the public school system, which has angered public school teachers, CNN reported.  

This incited the National Education Association to claim that she would move money that would otherwise have funded opportunities for students in public schools, according to CNN.

She supports the common core federal standards for grades K-12 English and math a standard that Trump has dismissed,CNN reported.

The same source reported she has been a supporter of charter schools and promoted them in place of public schools.

During the hearings, her lack of familiarity with American education laws and debates, specifically the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, took on a pivotal role in fostering Democratic and popular opposition, the Washington Post reported.  

In the wake of her swearing-in, as she visited public schools in D.C., protesters barred her from entering, similar to the post-inauguration protests of Trump, The New York Times reported.

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