After weeks of filling out his Cabinet, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees must now face confirmation hearings this week before Senate committees.
Starting Tuesday, Trump’s picks for attorney general, Homeland Security chief and secretary of state, among others, will testify before the Senate during a week marked by political debuts and goodbyes.
President Barack Obama’s farewell speech will be held in Chicago on Tuesday, while Trump will hold his first news conference in months the following day.
Here’s a quick guide to the week’s hearings and speeches. PBS NewsHour will live stream several of these throughout the week.
TUESDAY, JAN. 10
Jeff Sessions addressed accusations of racism in a 1986 confirmation hearing. Video by NBC News
WHO: Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and Trump’s nominee for Justice Department chief.
WHEN: Tuesday, 9:30 a.m. ET
WHAT TO EXPECT: Sessions will face questions on his 20-year tenure in the Senate, including his staunch stances on immigration, mass incarceration and civil rights.
Sessions’ record as a U.S. attorney and Alabama’s attorney general is also blemished by accusations of racism. He lost a federal judgeship in 1986 after a few of his former colleagues testified that Sessions once called the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American” and joked that the Ku Klux Klan were “okay” until he learned they smoked marijuana.
Sessions will continue his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
WHO: Retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, Trump’s nominee for Homeland Security secretary
WHEN: Tuesday, 3:30 p.m. ET
WHAT TO EXPECT: Kelly is a long-serving four-star military officer who joined the Marine Corps in 1970 and served three tours in Iraq. Before he retired in 2016, he served for three years as commander of the U.S. Southern Command, which has helped the Department of Homeland Security to target drug and human smuggling operations. Kelly has also been a vocal opponent to the Defense Department’s plans to open all combat jobs to women.
Kelly is also a Gold Star family member, meaning someone who lost an immediate relative who served during wartime. His son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, died at age 29 after he stepped on land mine in Afghanistan.
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 11
WHO: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state
WHEN: Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. ET
WHAT TO EXPECT: Trump has praised Tillerman, a U.S. oil and gas man, as one of the most accomplished “international deal makers in the world,” but critics see a potential red flag in the close connection between the ExxonMobil CEO and Russia. For one, Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship from Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013, after he secured deals with a state-operated oil company. His association with Russia will more than likely be questioned during the hearing, at a time when several federal agencies have suspected the country of meddling with the U.S. election in Trump’s favor.
WHO: Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and Trump’s nominee for attorney general for the Justice Department.
WHEN: Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. ET
WHAT TO EXPECT: The second part of Sessions’ confirmation hearing follows very public pushbacks from the NAACP, whose members staged a sit-in at his Alabama office last week, and by more than 1,400 faculty members from 180 law schools in 49 states, all of whom signed a letter opposing his nomination for attorney general.
WHO: Betsy DeVos, Michigan Republican and Trump’s nominee for secretary of education
WHEN: Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. ET
WHAT TO EXPECT: The former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman is a longtime supporter of charter schools and voucher programs. She also heads the American Federation for Children, a Washington, D.C., group that advocates for charter schools, a position that aligns with Trump’s education agenda. And although DeVos has supported Common Core education standards in the past, a position unpopular with Republicans, she has since clarified her stance, saying she now opposed them.
Also, as teachers unions are quick to point out, DeVos doesn’t have a professional background in a school district. Critics of school voucher programs also say these policies hurt public schools and low-income students.
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