Pros and Cons of Donald Trump’s Cabinet Picks

| Author: ProCon.org | MORE HEADLINES
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The Trump administration will need to fill about 4,000 government positions, including cabinet positions and various high-ranking White House positions. Most of the cabinet members require Senate confirmation. Some argue that Trump is shaking things up for the better and appointing Washington outsiders who will get things done. Others argue that the nominees are not qualified for the positions and could destroy the departments they are tapped to lead. Read pro and con quotes below about five of Trump’s cabinet nominees. A list of cabinet-level positions with their respective appointees and nominees appears at the end of the article.

From left to right: Cabinet picks Betsy DeVos, Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Andrew Puzder, and Rex Tillerson
Sources: Listed in footnotes

Secretary of Education
Betsy DeVos
Chair of the Michigan Republican Party and Education Activist

Pro

Lamar Alexander, US Senator (R-TN) and Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, in a Nov. 23, 2016 statement available on the Senate’s HELP Committee site, stated:

“Betsy DeVos is an excellent choice. The Senate’s education committee will move swiftly in January to consider her nomination. Betsy has worked for years to improve educational opportunities for all children. As secretary, she will be able to implement the new law fixing No Child Left Behind just as Congress wrote it, reversing the trend to a national school board and restoring to states, governors, school boards, teachers, and parents greater responsibility for improving education in their local communities. I also look forward to working with her on the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, giving us an opportunity to clear out the jungle of red tape that makes it more difficult for students to obtain financial aid and for administrators to manage America’s 6000 colleges and universities.”

Con

Daniel Katz, PhD, Chair of the Department of Educational Studies at Seton Hall University, in a Nov. 26, 2016 blog post, “Secretary of Privatization,” available on Katz’s website, stated:

“Friends have asked me directly what I think about this pick, and I have frankly responded that if Ms. DeVos can accomplish for the nation’s schools what she has managed to do in Michigan by leveraging her fortune to buy her desired results, then we are well and truly screwed. Ms. DeVos has never attended a public school, never sent her children to a public school, never studied education at any level, never taught a day in her life. What she does bring to the post is an unparalleled zeal for turning as much of our public schools as possible over to unregulated hands and for sending as much public school money as possible to private and religious institutions. With her appointment, the Trump administration’s priorities for our nation’s schools are made crystal clear: to hell with quality, to hell with equity, to hell with everything except privatization.”

Secretary of Health & Human Services
Tom Price, MD
US Representative (R-GA) and Chairman of the House Budget Committee

Pro

The American Medical Association, in a Nov. 29, 2016 statement, “AMA Statement on the Nomination of Rep. Tom Price to Be HHS Secretary,” available at ama-assn.org, stated:

“The American Medical Association strongly supports the nomination of Dr. Tom Price to become the next Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). His service as a physician, state legislator and member of the U.S. Congress provides a depth of experience to lead HHS. Dr. Price has been a leader in the development of health policies to advance patient choice and market-based solutions as well as reduce excessive regulatory burdens that diminish time devoted to patient care and increase costs.”

Con

Chuck Schumer, JD, US Senator (D-NY), in a Nov. 28, 2016 statement quoted by Robert Pear’s article, “Tom Price, Obamacare Critic, Is Trump’s Choice for Health Secretary,” available at nytimes.com, stated:

“Congressman Price has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want when it comes to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood. Thanks to those three programs, millions of American seniors, families, people with disabilities and women have access to quality, affordable health care. Nominating Congressman Price to be the H.H.S. secretary is akin to asking the fox to guard the henhouse.”

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator
Scott Pruitt, JD
Oklahoma Attorney General

Pro

Paul Bailey, Senior Vice President for Policy of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, in a Dec. 8, 2016 statement, “ACCCE Statement on Trump Nomination for EPA Administrator,” available at the ACCCE website, stated:

“We are pleased with President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator. General Pruitt will be a strong advocate for sensible policies that are good for our environment, as well as mindful of the need for affordable and reliable electricity.”

Con

Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, in a Dec. 7, 2016 statement, “Picking Pruitt for EPA, Trump Signals Campaign Attacks against Public Health Will Become Policy,” available at ewg.org, stated:

“There has been no bigger antagonist from the states against efforts to protect public health than Pruitt. He’s sued the EPA repeatedly over the agency’s efforts to reduce the number of children who are exposed to dangerous air pollutants that can diminish brain development or trigger asthma attacks, and he has targeted programs to protect vital drinking water sources for millions of people, mostly in rural areas of the country.”

Secretary of Labor
Andrew Puzder, JD
CEO of CKE Restaurants (which includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.)

Pro

Orrin Hatch, JD, US Senator (R-UT), in a Dec. 9, 2016 statement, “Hatch Statement on the Nomination of Andrew Puzder to Serve as Labor Secretary,” available at Hatch’s Senate site, stated:

“Andrew Puzder is a great pick for the modern American workforce. Having grown a prosperous company and facilitated business development over a prolific career in the private sector, he will bring invaluable expertise to the Department of Labor. He knows how to create jobs and help our businesses succeed. And he understands from firsthand experience how government overreach can hurt American workers, hamper economic growth, and stifle innovation. I am confident that Andrew will serve our country well.”

Con

Sherrod Brown, MPA, US Senator (D-OH), in a Dec. 12, 2016 statement, “Brown Statement on Nomination of Andrew Puzder for Labor Secretary,” available at Brown’s Senate site, stated:

“In nominating Andrew Puzder, President-elect Trump is betraying the voters who elected him. We need a Labor Secretary who will boost wages and labor protections – not one who wants to invest in machines instead of real employees, who opposes new overtime pay protections, and who actually thinks raising the minimum wage is bad for workers.”

Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson
CEO of ExxonMobil

Pro

Condoleezza Rice, PhD, 66th Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, in a statement released on Dec. 13, 2016 and quoted in Theodore Schleifer’s article, “Gates, Rice Pushed Tillerson Nomination after Firm Worked for ExxonMobil,” available at cnn.com, stated:

“Rex Tillerson is an excellent choice for Secretary of State. He will bring to the post remarkable and broad international experience; a deep understanding of the global economy; and a belief in America’s special role in the world. I know Rex as a successful business man and a patriot. He will represent the interests and the values of the United States with resolve and commitment. And he will lead the exceptional men and women of the State Department with respect and dedication.”

Con

Bernie Sanders, US Senator (I-VT), in a statement released on Dec. 13, 2016, “Sanders Statement on Trump’s Secretary of State Nominee,” available at Sanders’ Senate website, stated:

“Mr. Trump’s nomination of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state is sending a very troubling message to the international community. Not only is Mr. Tillerson a pal of Russia’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, but he is the head of one of the largest oil companies in the world. In this appointment, Mr. Trump is making it abundantly clear that the short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry are more important than climate change and the future of the planet. Very sad. Very dangerous. Mr. Tillerson must be opposed.”


Key Cabinet-Level White House Positions,
which do not require Senate confirmation:


Chief of Staff: Reince Priebus, JD, Chairman of the Republican National Committee

National Security Advisor: Michael Flynn, MBA, former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (appointed by President Obama) and Retired Lieutenant General of the US Army

Senior Advisors: Stephen Bannon, MBA, Founding Board Member and Executive Chair of Breitbart News and Chief Executive of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor for policy and former staffer for Senator Jeff Sessions. The remaining Senior Advisor positions are not yet filled.

Cabinet Positions, which do require Senate confirmation(in order of succession to the Presidency):

Vice President: Mike Pence, JD, Governor of Indiana (confirmed by the Senate)

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil

Secretary of the Treasury: Steve Mnuchin, Co-Chairman and CEO of Dune Capital Management

Secretary of Defense: James Mattis, Retired Marine General. The confirmation of “Mad Dog” Mattis will require Congress to pass legislation allowing him to take the position because law requires that defense secretaries have not been on active duty in the past seven years. Mattis retired in 2013 as Chief of US Central Command. Congress granted an exemption to General George C. Marshall in 1950 for the same position. (confirmed by Senate)

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions, JD, US Senator (R-AL)

Secretary of the Interior: Ryan Zinke, MBA, US Representative (R-MT) and retired Navy SEAL Commander

Secretary of Agriculture: Sonny Perdue, former Governor of Georgia

Secretary of Commerce:
Wilbur Ross, MBA, investor and former banker

Secretary of Labor: Andrew Puzder, JD, CEO of CKE Restaurants (which includes Hardee’s and Carl’s, Jr)

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Tom Price, US Representative (R-GA) and Chairman of the House Budget Committee

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson, MD, 2016 presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon

Secretary of Transportation: Elaine Chao, MBA, former Secretary of Labor (nominated by President George W. Bush), former Director of the Peace Corps, and former US Deputy Secretary of Transportation (under President George H.W. Bush)

Secretary of Energy: Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas

Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos, Chair of the Michigan Republican Party and education activist

Secretary of Veterans Affairs: David Shulkin, Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health

Secretary of Homeland Security: John Kelly, MA, MS, former Commander of the US Southern Command and retired US Marine General (confirmed by Senate)


Cabinet-Level Positions,
which do require Senate confirmation (and which are not part of the succession order):

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt, JD, Oklahoma Attorney General

Director of the Office of Management and Budget: Mick Mulvaney, JD, US Representative (R-SC)

US Ambassador to the United Nations: Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina (confirmed by Senate)

Administrator of the Small Business Administration: Linda McMahon, Cofounder and former President and CEO of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)

 

Footnotes:

  1. CNN Staff, “Who’s in Trump’s Cabinet?,” cnn.com, Dec. 13, 2016
  2. DBDV Foundation, “About,” dbdvfoundation.org (accessed Dec. 14, 2016
  3. District Office of Tom Price, “Tom Price (US Politicians),” wikipedia.org, Sep. 6, 2007
  4. Gage Skidmore, “Scott Pruitt,” flickr.com, Mar. 3, 2016
  5. Michael Hiltzik, “Does Andrew Puzder Really Want to Replace His Carl’s Jr. Workers with Robots? No, But…,” latimes.com, Mar. 30, 2016
  6. Forbes, “#24 Rex Tillerson,” forbes.com (accessed Dec. 14, 2016)