Could Steve Bannon’s Appointment Be Blocked by the Senate?

Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon exits an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower, November 11, 2016 in New York City. (Getty)

When Donald Trump was elected president on November 8th, many Democrats who vehemently opposed him during the election said that they would give him a chance to prove them wrong. That chance ended when the president-elect announced that Steve Bannon, executive chairman of a website associated with the alt-right movement, would serve as his senior counselor. Now, over 160 Democratic congressman have signed a letter to Trump urging not to hire Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart News. So what is the process of appointing Bannon, and is there any actual way that opponents can block him from ascending to the White House?

The president’s cabinet appointments are all presented to the Senate, with members then voting on whether to approve or reject the choice; a simple majority is required. But this process doesn’t apply to Bannon, as his position isn’t actually a part of the cabinet. Rather, Bannon will be considered a member of Trump’s personal staff, and these picks do not require approval from the Senate. Trump, therefore, can appoint anyone he wants, and there’s little that can be done about it.

Technically, there is one option. As observed by Bloomberg, senators could place a hold on one of Trump’s cabinet appointees and use this as a negotiating tactic, refusing to remove it unless Bannon is fired. But it would be up to Mitch McConnell whether this hold should be honored, so he could just go ahead with the vote anyway. If members of the Senate were really passionate about keeping Bannon out of the White House, they could also vote down all of Trump’s other cabinet picks until he fires Bannon. But this would need to be a bipartisan effort, as Democrats don’t have a majority in the Senate and thus couldn’t block anything without some Republican support.

A MoveOn petition called “Stop Steve Bannon” is approaching 250,000 signatures, with the petition reading, “We need to build the collective force necessary to put members of Congress on notice that we expect them to vehemently oppose Bannon’s appointment, using all the tools at their disposal, including holds on all further Trump appointments.”

But seeing as few Republican Congressman have expressed any concern over Steve Bannon, this seems unlikely. When asked about Bannon, high-profile Republicans like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham, and Paul Ryan have all urged Democrats to give him a chance. Those who were asked about Bannon’s extreme rhetoric and association with White Nationalism and antisemitism said they were not familiar with it. House Speaker Paul Ryan also cited the fact that Bannon is good at what he does.

“This is a person who helped [Trump] win an incredible victory and an incredible campaign,” Ryan said, according to The Guardian.

Barring a sudden reversal from Trump himself, then, it’s quite likely that Steve Bannon will be Donald Trump’s senior adviser in the White House.

There are some other appointments of Trump’s that could be blocked, though. For example, it has been rumored that John Bolton may be Trump’s pick for secretary of state, and due to his support of the Iraq war, Democrats and even many Republicans are against this. The secretary of state is a part of the president’s cabinet, and therefore 51 affirmative votes will be required to approve Bolton. If every Democrat in the Senate were to be opposed to a cabinet appointment, they would need five Republicans to vote down the appointment as well. And Republican Senator Rand Paul recently said that he will oppose the appointment of John Bolton.

“It’s important that someone who was an unrepentant advocate for the Iraq War, who didn’t learn the lessons of the Iraq War, shouldn’t be the secretary of state for a president who says Iraq was a big lesson,” Paul said this week. “Trump said that a thousand times. It would be a huge mistake for him to give over his foreign policy to someone who [supported the war]. I mean, you could not find more unrepentant advocates of regime change.”

Rand Paul also said that he would oppose the appointment of Rudy Giuliani to secretary of state. And because Paul is on the Foreign Relations Committee, he gets to vote on whether to recommend the secretary of state nomination. The committee gives a “favorable” or an “unfavorable” vote, and while this does not actually have any impact on whether the nominee is put up for a Senate vote, appointments are traditionally not confirmed after an unfavorable vote from the committee.

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  1. Isn’t that funny how with open arms our government allows terrorist in this country, as the Democrats will claim all white people are racist.
    And what about Barney sellout Sanders and his idea of having White America work as illegal immigrants get free stuff like free food ,free housing ,free college ,free medical ,and not pay a dime in taxes.

  2. The democrats signed a petition? How about you eat crow now. Especially after a complete implosion of the democrat party, you put up a crooked criminal for president and now you complain that genius Bannon is going to keep crushing your party out of exisistance?

  3. Hey, did you hear the one about Steve Bannon interviewing Donald Trump on his Breitbart radio show waaaaayyy back in 2015? Yea, it goes something like this. Bannon seems to think there are too many Asian CEOs in Silicon Valley. Yea, ain’t that a hoot! Donald Trump replied that no way should we get rid of the Asians that have a great American, ivy-league education. They are smart and run really good businesses. But the rest of them should go. Yea, go Donald. Thanks for allowing them that privilege. Awesome! But, wait. There’s a little more. Bannon replies that he’s from the hard right and that no matter what Trump said, he would always have to disagree with him. He said that we our a country of civility, not just economy. WOW! Truly shock and awe right there!! Bannon’s so far to the right, his nose touches his ass! Oh, and I think The Donald might have a little trouble saying the media and press is biased and rigged. It’s a recording, mofos!!

  4. Two questions:
    1) can we ask the organizations that oppose Bannon to demand senators go ON RECORD in support/opposition of Bannon (I’m talking one document, like a roll call)
    2) who is paying Bannon in this advisory role? The large majority of tax payers who find him repugnant? Can we withhold pay by petition if we can’t block him?

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  6. You do realize that because of Harry Reid using the Nuclear Option that the GOP will do the same? All that is needed is a simple majority in the Senate slick.