Two more of President Donald Trump’s cabinet picks advanced toward confirmation Tuesday including US ambassador-designate to the United Nations Nikki Haley, but Democrats delayed consideration of his nominee for attorney general.
Haley, a Republican governor of South Carolina, was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a voice vote that advances her nomination to the Senate floor.
Trump has just three cabinet members in place so far -- secretary of defense James Mattis, homeland security secretary John Kelly and CIA director Mike Pompeo, who was confirmed and sworn in late Tuesday.
A confirmation vote for Haley, 45, could come as early as Tuesday if Democrats do not put up an objection.
Trump has signalled he would like to slash US funding for United Nations climate change programs, and he opposed a recent UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel that Barack Obama’s adminstration had declined to veto.
Haley won the backing of Democratic Senator Ben Cardin because, he said, “she does not support efforts to slash American funding to the UN and that she would consistently vocalise US values, including universal human rights, good governance, and press and religious freedom.”
Meanwhile another Senate panel, also by voice vote, advanced the nomination of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to be Trump’s secretary of housing and urban development despite his lack of experience in the field.
Carson, 65, was a Trump rival for the Republican presidential nomination last year. If confirmed he would be the only African-American member of the cabinet.
A committee vote on Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general pick, was pushed back by one week, as Democrats expressed deep concerns about his record on civil rights and immigration.
Sessions was the Senate’s earliest public supporter of Trump after the billionaire real estate mogul launched his unorthodox campaign, and he was rewarded with a plum nomination to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.
Other nominees facing hearings Tuesday included congressman Tom Price, Trump’s pick for health secretary and a strong advocate of repealing the Affordable Care Act; Linda McMahon, a wrestling tycoon tapped to head the Small Business Administration; and congressman Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s choice for White House Budget Director.
Cabinet nominees require a simple majority for confirmation in the 100-seat Senate, where Republicans control 52 seats.