The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate plans to rush forward this week with confirmation hearings for many of Donald Trump’s nominees for cabinet and other key executive positions. Though many of the picks have not yet completed the customarily required ethics clearances and background checks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has shown no willingness to delay.
“They’ve made pretty clear they intend to slow down and resist and that doesn’t provide a lot of incentive or demonstrate good faith to negotiate changes. So I think we’re going to just be plowing ahead,” his deputy, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) told Politico.
But back in 2009, McConnell took the exact opposite view. A letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), posted on Twitter by Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington co-founder and former Obama administration ethics adviser Norm Eisen on Sunday, shows he demanded that “financial disclosures must be complete” before any confirmation hearings be scheduled.
In his letter, McConnell wrote that his party’s duty to “conduct the appropriate review” of presidential nominations, “consistent with the long standing and best practices of committees, regardless of which party is in the majority,” was one it took seriously. “These best practices serve the Senate well,” he added, “and we will insist on their fair and consistent application.” The then-Senate Minority Leader called the financial disclosure process and other ethical steps essential “to fairly review a nominee’s record and to make an informed decision prior to a vote.”
This is not the first time since Trump’s November victory that McConnell has completely reversed himself on the senate’s “advise and consent” process. After refusing to even allow a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland for nearly a year — the longest delay in American history — and refusing to commit to allowing a confirmation vote even if Hillary Clinton won, McConnell said on Wednesday that “the American people simply will not tolerate” it if Democrats refuse to confirm a Trump Supreme Court nominee.
On Sunday morning, McConnell said on Face the Nation that Democrats should stop making “procedural complaints” and “grow up.”