Republican Senate Starting to Block Trump Nominees

Former Rep. Scott Garrett latest to get crosswise with GOP Senate

The Senate Banking Committee has rejected former Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., as President Donald Trump's nominee to be president of the Export-Import Bank. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In another example of the increased scrutiny President Donald Trump’s nominees are facing, the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday rejected the nomination of former Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., to lead the Export-Import Bank, with Republicans Tim Scott of South Carolina and Mike Rounds of South Dakota joining Democrats to vote him down.

Garrett was a vocal opponent of the bank when he was in Congress, and his nomination was in trouble from the start. But it follows a pattern of other nominees running into headwinds in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Three of Trump’s picks for federal judgeships in the last two weeks have withdrawn their nominations. Matt Petersen, a district court nominee, withdrew on Monday after facing fresh scrutiny due to an exchange with Sen. John N. Kennedy, R-La., during which Petersen was unable to answer basic legal questions. 

Petersen’s decision followed last week’s news that Brett Talley, a nominee to be a district judge in Alabama, was withdrawing his nomination after the Judiciary Committee had already sent his bid for the bench to the floor and offered to withdraw his nomination. Another judicial nominee, Jeff Mateer, for the Eastern District of Texas, also pulled up stakes. 

“This is a clear signal that the White House isn’t properly vetting nominees but instead counting on Senate Republicans to jam them through with minimal review,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement on Monday. “I hope the White House and Senate Republicans learn a lesson from this and change how they’re handling judicial nominations.” ‎

The Senate has approved a record number of Trump’s appeals court picks this year after mostly slow-walking circuit court and district nominees in the last two years of Barack Obama's presidency. 

Other executive nominees have gotten crosswise with the GOP Congress.

Michael Dourson, who was tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety division, withdrew his nomination earlier this month after criticism from GOP members, including North Carolina Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard M. Burr.

Paul Trombino III, Trump’s pick to lead the Federal Highway Administration also withdrew his nomination earlier this month, but for personal reasons. He had received bipartisan support in the Senate.

Earlier this year a number of high-profile individuals withdrew their nominations, including Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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