WASHINGTON – Top Senate Democrats are trying to put the brakes on President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet picks, insisting on extensive financial information on some of the wealthiest Americans before moving forward on nominations. Frustrated by the slow response of billionaires and multimillionaires to their request, 16 Democrats delivered an ultimatum Thursday, saying no committee should vote on a nominee until the individual has cleared an FBI background check, provided a financial report and an ethics agreement with the Office of Government Ethics, and responded to "reasonable requests for additional information" such as tax returns. "The United States Senate has a rich, bipartisan tradition of vetting nominees to the president's Cabinet," said New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democratic leader. "We hope to continue that tradition with our colleagues in the Republican majority because the American people are entitled to a fair and open consideration process for all executive nominations." Republicans controlling the Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, want to make quick work of Cabinet confirmations once Trump takes office on Jan. 20.
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday said the war in Syria, while a profound failure on the part of the international community, is not a U.S. failure alone. "We brought Iran to the table, we brought Russia to the table. We had assurances that Assad would do certain things, and he didn't," Kerry told PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff. "He chose not to, so the Russians failed, actually, to deliver Assad in the way that they said he would."
Protests begin in Washington before Trump's inauguration This is our look at President-elect Donald Trump's transition and the outgoing Obama administration: Protesters rally in Washington, signaling a divided Inauguration Day Trump's Treasury pick is hammered at confirmation hearing Thousands prepare to march the day after inauguration Follow us on Twitter for more, or subscribe to our free daily politics newsletter Trump's Treasury pick is hammered at confirmation hearing Secretary of State John F. Kerry, on his last full day on the job Thursday, told a lobby packed with diplomats that facts are facts "for a reason" and urged the staff to continue fighting for justice. In a bittersweet departure from the State Department compound, Kerry sought to counter the rhetoric from President-elect Donald Trump, who has called global warming a hoax and suggested the European Union was created against U.S. interests. Kerry also hoped to rally a clearly dispirited diplomatic corps that feels its mission is undefined. He told them to "stay faithful" to their ideals and to "make ripples that sweep down the walls of resistance to justice." Kerry received thunderous applause in a cavernous foyer that displays dozens of flags as well as a memorial to State Department employees killed in the line of duty.
After blasting Republican colleagues for years over their blockade of President Obama's agenda, Democrats are gearing up for their turn as the opposition party – planning to throw up early roadblocks for President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet picks and proposals. With the new Congress set to convene Jan. 3 – and Trump set for his inauguration on Jan. 20 – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi last week issued a call to action to her rank and file to fight Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, one of Republicans' top agenda priorities for 2017. Pelosi is planning to intensify the "drumbeat" in the week before the inauguration, setting Jan. 14 as a "national day of action with events across the country." The Democrats' bid to fend off Republican attacks on Obama's signature domestic policy achievement is no surprise. But the resistance extends well beyond fortifying their ObamaCare defenses.
Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, has been confirmed by the US Senate to become President Donald Trump's secretary of state. The Texas native, 64, was cleared for full Senate approval in a 56-43 vote. The vote came after Senate Republicans changed the rules in order to approve Mr Trump's nominees for health and treasury, despite a Democratic boycott. Mr Tillerson, who has never held political office, faced intense scrutiny over his ties to Russia. The former oil chief forged multibillion-dollar deals with Russia's state oil company, Rosneft, and was awarded the Order of Friendship by the Kremlin in 2013.