Leondra Head | Local and World Editor
With a Trump presidency already underway, the nation is anxious to find out who will join his cabinet. The Senate confirmed President Trump’s first cabinet members Friday, January 20, formally approving his defense secretary and the secretary for homeland security.
The final vote to confirm retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to run the Department of Defense was 98-1. New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was the only senator to vote against him. Mattis becomes the first senior military officer to serve as defense secretary since President Truman nominated Army Gen. George C. Marshall in 1950. Trump signed a bill clearing the way for Mattis to be confirmed on inauguration day. Congress passed the waiver, making an exception to a law requiring defense secretaries be out of the military at least seven years before serving earlier this month.
Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly was confirmed at 88-11. Kelly, who retired last year as head of the U.S. Southern Command, will take over a department with more than 240,000 employees to oversee border security, protecting the president and America’s electrical grid. The two national security nominees were considered the least controversial of the picks. In order to be confirmed quickly by voice vote, the Senate must be unanimous.
The U.S. Senate is still in the process of confirming President Trump’s cabinet nominations. From Exxon CEO, Rex Tillerson for the Secretary of State nomination to controversial Jeff Sessions for the Attorney General nomination. Tillerson was nominated by Trump in November as the U.S. secretary of state. If the millionaire businessman is confirmed, he will be the richest Secretary of State without any political experience.
If Sessions is confirmed, he will be the most unprecedented US Attorney General. According to the Huffington Post, Sessions was once rejected as a federal judge over allegations he called a Black attorney “boy,” suggested a white lawyer working for black clients was a race traitor and joked that the only issue he had with the Ku Klux Klan was their drug use in the 1980’s. During this time period, Sessions also referred to civil rights groups as “un-American.”
“I disagree with Sessions statement regarding civil rights groups. The NAACP stood in the gap for all minorities who felt disenfranchised by the American government and society,” said Anasa Dixon, a junior political science major.Dixon went on to say, “America was founded on the sentiment of liberty and justice for all. The NAACP and other equal opportunity seeking organizations epitome that sentiment as well.”
The Senate still has to confirm: Former Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue as Trump’s Secretary of agriculture and Ben Carson, former Republican candidate for Secretary of housing and Urban Development Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The other appointments the U.S. Senate has to confirm is the Director of National Intelligence, Secretary of Education, Secretary of the Army, Secretary of the Interior, Energy secretary, Labor secretary, Treasury Secretary, Secretary of Commerce and the Transportation Secretary.
“Trump’s cabinet appointments will ultimately promote Trump’s agenda. I hope the Senate does their research on all of Trump’s cabinet nominations in order to ensure that equal rights for the American people while upholding the law,” Brittany Smith, a sophomore political science major from New York City said.