Why Sen. Orrin Hatch suspended committee rules to advance Trump nominees

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U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), left,  is welcomed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) prior to testifying before a confirmation hearing  Jan. 24. On the second day of a boycott from Democrats, Orrin led a vote to suspend committee rules and advance Price to a full Senate vote. Photo by REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), left, is welcomed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) prior to testifying before a confirmation hearing Jan. 24. On the second day of a boycott from Democrats, Orrin led a vote to suspend committee rules and advance Price to a full Senate vote. Photo by REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

It was the most pivotal and decisive Senate hearing of the Trump administration so far. But the room was relatively empty. Just a few reporters made it.

With relatively little public notice, Senate Finance Committee Republicans voted Wednesday morning to approve two of President Donald Trump’s hotly debated cabinet nominees: Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin and Tom Price, Trump’s pick for the Department of Health and Human Services. For a second day, all Democrats on the committee declined to attend, leaving Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, without the single Democrat required for the committee to take votes.

Hatch and Republicans were able to move the nominations forward by voting to suspend that rule for the morning. It was a virtually unprecedented step, one Hatch said was approved by the Senate Parliamentarian.

NewsHour was among the few outlets to make the hearing. Listen to an impromptu Q&A between Hatch and PBS Newshour’s Lisa Desjardins after the committee adjourned.

Mnuchin and Price will now head to the full Senate for a vote.

The post Why Sen. Orrin Hatch suspended committee rules to advance Trump nominees appeared first on PBS NewsHour.