Connect to Congress: More Trump cabinet picks draw praise, concern

Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., speaks to Sinclair Broadcast Group in Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (SBG)

WASHINGTON (SBG) - President-elect Donald Trump has already named more than a dozen people to his cabinet, and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have lauded both the speed of the announcements as well as the choices made.

“Mr. Trump is a very successful businessman. He’s used to making decisions and moving on,” Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., told WPMI-TV. “They’re getting some great people coming forward who want to take these positions. They’re getting the best of the crop.”

Which both Byrne and Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., believe is good for the Republican Party as well as for all Americans.

In an interview with WCHS-TV, Mooney said, “After eight years of liberal people running these cabinet positions, we have a chance now for some good conservatives to run these positions.”

Among the picks praised by GOP lawmakers, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., nominated to become the next secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., nominated to become the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, received the highest marks as two of their own.

“They’re friends of mine,” Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., told KATV in an interview. “Mike (Pompeo) is an accomplished guy, graduated first in his class at West Point ... Tom (Price) is going to direct HHS. He’s got some strong ideas about how we reshape the health care agenda.”

So far, Democrats on Capitol Hill have expressed concern for some of Trump’s picks, particularly that of former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist for his administration, largely due to Bannon’s involvement with the “alt-right” movement.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., did express less concern for one of Trump’s choices: Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, tapped to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In an interview with KATU-TV, Blumenauer called her more “mainstream” than others.

Blumenauer also waded into the talk of who Trump’s secretary of State pick might be, saying, “The consideration of Mitt Romney, I think, ought to be comforting for some. It’d be better if he actually appoint a Mitt Romney than somebody like Rudy Giuliani or John Bolton.”

Both Romney and Giuliani have reportedly made the final cut as Trump continues to deliberate on that pick.

Meanwhile, Blumenauer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who will join the U.S. Senate next year in the place of retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., took aim at Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary – Steve Mnuchin.

Van Hollen said of Trump's choosing Mnuchin, in an interview with Washington, D.C.’s NewsChannel 8, “For all his talk of, you know, connecting to the American worker, the reality is he’s picked a big Wall Street guy and that’s the not the direction we should be going.”

Van Hollen also expressed disappointment in the choice of Price for HHS secretary, citing worries that Price may want to privatize Medicare benefits.

While Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., told WPEC-TV that she also has “anxiety” over many of Trump’s picks, she gave a more positive outlook.

“President-elect Trump will be our president and I wish him success, if it’s success for all Americans, not just a privileged few,” Frankel said. “We’ll wait and see.”

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