January 19, 2017 / 5:57 PM / 3 years ago

Senate to vote on just two Trump national security picks on Friday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate is due to vote on Friday on two retired Marine generals who are President-elect Donald Trump’s choices as secretary of defense and secretary of homeland security, but Democrats promised fights over several other nominees.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Mattis testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to serve as defense secretary in Washington, U.S. January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Both retired General James Mattis, Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon, and retired General John Kelly, his choice for the Department of Homeland Security, are expected to be confirmed easily.

The Senate will begin debate on a third prospective member of Trump’s national security team, U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, his choice for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer said on Thursday.

Schumer did not guarantee a vote on Pompeo on Friday. “There are a good number of members” who want to make statements about Pompeo or ask him questions, Schumer told a news conference.

Republicans had hoped to confirm as many as seven of Trump’s nominees on Friday, the day he becomes president.

However, Democrats balked at what they described as efforts by Republicans, who hold a 52-seat majority in the 100-member Senate, to jam through nominees before they had filed all their financial and ethics paperwork.

There have been 15 hearings for Trump nominees in the past two weeks.

Republicans accuse Democrats of playing politics, using stalling tactics and overstating ethics concerns about some of Trump’s selections.

Schumer called for an investigation of the healthcare stock investments of Representative Tom Price, the nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Price has denied any inappropriate actions.

Schumer said the Senate might also confirm a few of Trump’s other “noncontroversial” nominees quickly, but declined to name any.

“Over the last few weeks, Republicans have made a mockery of the confirmation process,” Schumer said.

Most of Trump’s nominees will eventually be confirmed. Under a rules change orchestrated by Democrats when they held a Senate majority, his selections need just 50 votes to pass the Senate, not the 60 that used to be required for a nomination to advance in the chamber.

Seven members of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet were confirmed the day he took office, a number Republicans hoped to match for Trump. Schumer said the Obama nominees had completed their paperwork and ethics reviews while all of Trump’s choices had not.

Underscoring the bitterness over the confirmation process, Schumer also said Democrats wanted roll call votes on Mattis and Kelly, rather than allowing their confirmation by voice vote.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Grant McCool and Jonathan Oatis

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