As President-elect Donald Trump’s future cabinet continues to take shape at a relatively rapid pace, reactions to some of his choices for top positions are falling in along party lines on Capitol Hill.
Republicans say Trump is fulfilling his campaign promises to bring fresh perspectives and real change to Washington, but Democrats argue his selection of political insiders and campaign donors directly contradicts his populist rhetoric.
On Wednesday, Trump formally announced that he intends to nominate Hollywood producer and former banker Steven Mnuchin, his campaign’s top fundraiser, as secretary of treasury and billionaire Wilbur Ross, one of his campaign’s economic advisers, as commerce secretary.
Earlier this week, Trump named Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as his pick for the Department of Health and Human Services and former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to head the Department of Transportation.
According to Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Trump’s experience as a businessman revitalizing companies and managing transitions in leadership has informed his transition process and his cabinet selections.
“This isn’t new to him and he’s taking a business approach,” he said.
The public should expect Trump to do things differently from traditional politicians, given his background, and Mullin argued that is a good thing.
“We needed a shake-up up here and that’s exactly what we have in President-elect Trump,” Mullin said.
Some Republicans cited their personal experience working with Trump’s nominees.
“You couldn’t have a better choice,” Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) said of Rep. Price.
Price has been pushing legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act for years, and Weber said he is “right on top of health issues.”
Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) praised the selection of his House coworker Price and Trump’s planned CIA Director Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), but he declined to assess any of Trump’s other picks.
“I have an enormous amount of confidence in their ability to lead their respective departments,” he said of Price and Pompeo.
Womack urged people to give Trump a chance to choose his cabinet members and get to work for the country before casting judgment.
Democrats have expressed concerns about several of Trump’s choices, including Mnuchin. According to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), nominating a former Goldman Sachs executive contradicts the appeals Trump made to the working class during the campaign.
“For all of his talk of connecting with the American worker, the reality is he’s picked a big Wall Street guy and that’s not the direction we should be going,” he said.
Van Hollen also criticized Trump adviser Steve Bannon as a “crusader for the alt-right,” referring to Bannon’s background at Breitbart News.
“I’m very concerned for the direction of the country,” he said.
He offered a less glowing assessment of Price’s work on health care issues in Congress than his GOP colleagues, noting that he has supported plans that would privatize parts of Medicare. Trump did not voice support for such measures during the campaign.
“I will say to people who voted for Donald Trump, many of them are going to get a rude awakening,” Van Hollen said.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said some of Trump’s more mainstream choices like Nikki Haley are “interesting,” but others like his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn are “unhinged.”
“We’ll just wait and see,” he added.