Over one month into Donald Trump’s administration, only eight cabinet nominees have not yet been approved.
The confirmation process has been unusually slow, but Democrats have objected throughout by saying they have not had enough time to properly vet the president’s nominees. President Trump himself weighed in on Twitter, saying Democrats should be ashamed of themselves.
In order for one of Trump’s cabinet nominees to be approved, they must first undergo a hearing in front of the appropriate committee. From there, a vote is scheduled among members of that committee, and if a majority of them approve the person, another vote is held in the full Senate. Only a simple majority of votes are required, and considering there are currently 52 Republican members of the Senate, a nominee will only fail to be confirmed if some Republicans turn against them.
Here’s what you need to know about the current status of all of Trump’s cabinet nominees.
John Kelly: Confirmed January 20th
John Kelly was confirmed as United States secretary of Homeland Security on January 20th, the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
This was a relatively uncontroversial pick, and unlike some of Trump’s other cabinet nominees, Kelly’s cabinet hearings were not particularly contentious. In fact, Democrats were surprised to hear Kelly break from Trump on some key issues; for example, he seemed to disagree with the president on the United States’ use of torture.
“I don’t think we should ever come close to crossing a line that is beyond what we as Americans would expect to follow in terms of interrogation techniques,” he said, even though Donald Trump stated during his campaign that he would bring back waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
Kelly was confirmed by the Senate in an 88-11 vote on January 20th. The following senators voted against him: Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Catherine Cortez Masto, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Martin Heinrich, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Chris Van Hollen, Elizabeth Warren, and Ron Wyden.
James Mattis: Confirmed January 20th
Also being confirmed on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration was James Mattis, the new secretary of Defense.
Mattis is another pick that was relatively uncontroversial, as Mattis is widely respected among those on both sides of the aisle. There was a bit of debate, however, about whether Congress should pass a waiver allowing Mattis to serve in the position. Technically, the Defense secretary is not allowed to have served in the military for the past seven years, and Mattis served as recently as 2013. Congress ultimately granted him the waiver.
Mattis was confirmed on January 20th in a 98-1 vote. The sole senator to vote against Mattis was Kirsten Gillibrand, who also voted against John Kelly.
Nikki Haley: Confirmed January 24th
The next cabinet nominee to be confirmed was Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Though Haley is a well-respected politician, there was some question during her hearings as to what qualifications she has for the position; she has served as senator and governor, but she has no real foreign policy experience.
Still, on January 24th, she was confirmed by the Senate in a 96-4 vote. The only senators to vote no were Chris Coons, Martin Heinrich, Bernie Sanders and Tom Udall. Kirsten Gillibrand, who voted against James Mattis and John Kelly, voted in favor of confirming Hayley.
Elaine Chao: Confirmed January 31st
Finally, the most recent cabinet nominee to be confirmed was Elaine Chao, secretary of Transportation.
Unlike many of Trump’s other cabinet nominees, Chao has prior experience working in the White House, having served as secretary of Labor under George W. Bush. She faced little pushback from Democrats during her hearing.
Ultimately, Chao was confirmed by the Senate on a 93-6 vote. The Senators to vote against her confirmation were Cory Booker, Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and, again, Kirsten Gillibrand.
Rex Tillerson: Confirmed February 1st
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of State, was confirmed by the Senate on February 1st.
Tillerson had been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 23rd, and on Monday, the Senate voted to end a Democratic filibuster delaying Tillerson’s vote. A full Senate vote occurred in the afternoon on Wednesday, with Tillerson being approved 56-43.
This was a very controversial choice on Trump’s part, largely due to Tillerson’s business interests in Russia. He faced scrutiny from Democrats and some Republicans in his hearing, especially when he refused to say that Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed war crimes. Senator Marco Rubio, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had hinted that he might not support Tillerson, but he ultimately voted in favor of Tillerson’s approval.
Betsy DeVos: Confirmed February 7th
Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Education secretary on February 7th.
This was the most contested nominee in Donald Trump’s cabinet. Two Republican Senators crossed party lines and voted against Betsy DeVos, the first being Lisa Murkowski.
“I have serious concerns about a nominee to be secretary of Education…who has been so immersed in the discussion of vouchers,” Murkowski said upon announcing her intention to vote against DeVos.
Republican Senator Susan Collins also voted against DeVos.
“I come to the floor to announce a very difficult decision that I have made, and that is to vote against the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be our nation’s next secretary of Education,” Collins said last week.
In the hours before Betsy DeVos’ vote, Democrats held the Senate for 24 hours and delivered speeches against Betsy DeVos in hopes of pressuring just one Republican to vote against her. But the vote ended up tied at 50-50, with Vice President Mike Pence serving as the tie-breaking vote. This was the first time in the history of the Senate that the vice president has broken a tie for a cabinet nominee.
Jeff Sessions: Confirmed February 8th
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Jeff Sessions on February 1st, and the full Senate confirmed him on February 8th.
Next to Betsy DeVos, Sessions was the most controversial cabinet appointee of Trump’s. He was confirmed mainly across party lines, but one Democrat voted to confirm him: Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Manchin is up for re-election in 2018 in a state that Donald Trump won overwhelmingly.
With Sessions vacating his Senate seat, a special election will be held, though that has not yet been scheduled by the Alabama governor.
Tom Price: Confirmed February 10th
Tom Price was confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services on February 10th in a 52 to 47 vote.
Price is a fierce opponent of the Affordable Care Act, and his nomination was controversial for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that in 2016, he purchased stock in a biotech company whose largest shareholder is a fellow Republican congressman. Democrats grilled Price during his confirmation hearing over accusations that his relationship with this congressman gave him special access.
A few years ago, Price introduced his own Obamacare alternative called the Empowering Patients First Act, which relies mainly on tax credits, high-risk insurance pools, and interstate insurance markets. This bill might give us a preview of what the Trump administration’s Obamacare replacement will look like.
Price’s committee vote was scheduled to take place on February 1st, but Democrats, in protest of Price’s nomination, did not show up. Committee rules require that at least one Democrat be present for the vote to occur, and so by not being there, the Democrats could theoretically delay the vote. But Republicans on the committee voted to suspend the rule requiring Democrats to be present, and so Price made it through the committee anyway.
Steven Mnuchin: Confirmed February 13th
Steven Mnuchin was confirmed as treasury secretary on February 13th.
Every single Republican voted for Mnuchin, and almost every single Democrat voted against him. The only Democratic vote came from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who is up for re-election next year in a state that Trump overwhelmingly won. Manchin was also the only Democrat to vote to confirm Jeff Sessions.
Mnuchin has been a controversial pick due to his time with OneWest Bank, which has been criticized for cruel and overly aggressive foreclosure practices. Democrats boycotted a Senate Finance Committee vote on Mnuchin a few weeks ago, but Republicans moved to suspend the rules and vote on Mnuchin without Democrats present.
David Shulkin: Confirmed February 13th
Also confirmed by the Senate on February 13th was David Shulkin, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Veterans Affairs.
This was the only one of Trump’s nominees to earn bipartisan support. In fact, there was not a single senator who voted against Schulkin, and the vote on Monday was 100 to 0.
Shulkin previously served as under secretary of health for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 2015 until 2017.
Linda McMahon: Confirmed February 14th
Linda McMahon was confirmed as head of the Small Business Administration on February 14th. The vote was 81 to 19, and McMahon received a fair amount of Democratic support including from Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal who, like McMahon, are both from Connecticut. Blumenthal defeated McMahon for a seat in the Senate during the 2010 election.
Jeanne Shaheen, the top Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee and Entrepreneurship Committee, also supported McMahon.
“Mrs. McMahon shares my vision for a strong SBA that will support America’s entrepreneurs,” Shaheen said, according to the Hartford Courant. “And I was particularly pleased to learn…that she opposes efforts to merge the SBA into another agency.”
This comes after McMahon was approved by the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on January 31st in an 18-1 vote. The only senator to vote against McMahon was Cory Booker.
Mick Mulvaney: Confirmed February 16th
Mick Mulvaney was confirmed as director of the Office of Management and Budget on February 16th.
A committee vote on Mulvaney’s nomination was delayed in early February, with Democrats saying they wanted more time to review an FBI background check that had arrived to them late, according to Politico.
The following day, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Budget Committee both approved Mulvaney. The Senate approved him in a 51 to 49 vote. Every single Democrat voted against him, as did Republican Senator John McCain, who was concerned about Mulvaney’s support for cutting defense spending.
Scott Pruitt: Confirmed February 17th
Scott Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on February 2nd, and he was approved by the full Senate on February 17th.
Senate Democrats did not show up for the committee vote on Pruitt two days in a row, and so Republicans moved to suspend the rule requiring Democrats to be in attendance for the vote.
“I have been informed that no Democrats will be in attendance,” Senator John Barrasso, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, told reporters at the time. “It is a disappointing turn of events.”
Democrats said that they have not received enough information about Pruitt, in particular wanting to know more about his finances.
“The committee Democrats are deeply concerned about the lack of thoroughness of Mr. Pruitt’s responses to our questions for the record. I share their concern,” Democratic Senator Tom Carper said in an open letter. “I request that you delay the Committee’s consideration of Mr. Pruitt’s nomination until he provides complete answers our questions.”
Pruitt has over the years fought against the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency he will now be leading. He was confirmed by the Senate in a 52 to 46 vote. It was mainly across party lines, but Democrat Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp voted for him, and Republican Susan Collins voted against him.
Ryan Zinke: Confirmed by Committee January 31st, Awaiting Full Senate Vote
Next up is Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump’s nominee for Interior secretary. He was approved by the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on January 31st, and so he just needs approval from the Senate. That Senate vote has not yet been scheduled.
Some Democratic senators, including Maria Cantwell of Washington, expressed concern during Zinke’s hearing about the Trump administration’s handling of federal lands.
“The Trump administration has made it clear it wants to pursue an aggressive energy development agenda undoing reasonable protections on environmentally sensitive lands and waters,” she said.
He was also pressed about climate change, finally saying when questioned by Senator Bernie Sanders that “man has had an influence.”
In addition to the Republicans, four Democrats also voted to approve Zinke. Bernie Sanders voted against him.
Wilbur Ross: Confirmed by Committee January 24th, Awaiting Full Senate Vote
Also recently approved by committee was Wilbur Ross, the nominee for secretary of Commerce. The Senate Commerce Committee voted to send him to the full Senate on January 24th. He does not currently have his Senate vote scheduled.
Ross’ hearing was another contentious one, and senators were surprised when he revealed that he once unknowingly hired an undocumented worker.
“We did the best that we thought we could do in order to verify the legality of the employment. It turned out that was incorrect,” Ross said.
This did not end up affecting his confirmation.
Ben Carson: Confirmed by Committee January 24th, Awaiting Full Senate Vote
Ben Carson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of Housing and Urban Development, recently cleared the Senate Banking Committee; the committee voted unanimously to confirm him on January 24th. His Senate vote is not yet scheduled.
Joining in to vote for Carson was Elizabeth Warren, one of the most liberal United States senators, and she faced criticism from her constituents for doing so. She later took to Facebook to explain herself, saying that Carson is not the nominee she wanted, but he still impressed her.
“Dr. Carson’s answers weren’t perfect,” she wrote. “But at his hearing, he committed to track and report on conflicts of interest at the agency. In his written responses to me, he made good, detailed promises, on everything from protecting anti-homelessness programs to enforcing fair housing laws. Promises that – if they’re honored – would help a lot of working families.”
Rick Perry: Confirmed by Committee January 31st, Awaiting Full Senate Vote
Rick Perry, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Energy, was approved by the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on January 31st in a 16-7 vote. His Senate vote is not scheduled.
Perry received the support of some Democrats, including Debbie Stabenow, Joe Manchin, and Catherine Cortez Mast. However, Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell said she was concerned about Perry’s ability to stand up to the White House.
“The governor’s responses for the record left me wondering whether he would stand up to fight the White House’s approach to these programs,” she said.
During his confirmation hearing, Rick Perry said he regretted calling for the Energy department to be defunded. He also, to the surprise of some Democrats, acknowledged that the Earth’s climate is changing.
“I believe the climate is changing,” he said. “I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity.
Alexander Acosta: Awaiting Confirmation Hearing
Alexander Acosta was recently announced as Donald Trump’s new nominee for labor secretary. This comes after Andrew Puzder, the previous nominee, withdrew his name from consideration.
Acosta was selected for the position on February 16th. He does not yet have a confirmation hearing scheduled.
Robert Lighthizer: Awaiting Confirmation Hearing
Robert Lighthizer was announced as Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. trade representative on January 3rd.
Lighthizer’s confirmation hearing has not been scheduled, although he did recently meet with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, according to Grassley’s Facebook page.
Sonny Perdue: Awaiting Confirmation Hearing
Sonny Perdue, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Agriculture, is awaiting a confirmation hearing. The date for this hearing has not yet been set.
This will likely be the last member of Donald Trump’s cabinet to be confirmed, as he was the last member to be announced; Trump named Perdue as his choice for Agriculture secretary the day before his inauguration.