The Cabinet of the United States is made of the appointed officers of the executive Brand of the federal government. All Cabinet members are nominated by the President and then presented to the Senate for confirmation or rejection by a simple majority.
All cabinet-level officials except the White House chief of staff, require Senate confirmation, including: the secretaries of agriculture, commerce, defense, education, energy, health and human services, homeland security, housing and urban development, interior, labor, state, transportation, treasury, and veterans affairs, as well as the attorney general, director of the Office of Management and Butget, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. trade representative, ambassador to the United Nations chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and administrator of the Small Business Administration.
Hearing began last week and are expected to end in the following days.
Last week, Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, transportation secretary nominee Elaine Chao, homeland security secretary John Kelly, defense secretary James Mattis, CIA director nominee Mike Pompeo, housing and urban development secretary nominee Ben Carson all appeared before the respective Senate committees for questioning.
This week interior secretary nominee Ryan Zinke, education secretary Betsy DeVoz, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, environmental protection agency administrator Scott Pruitt, health and human services secretary Tom Price, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, energy secretary Rick Perry, and treasury secretary Steve Muchin will have their hearings. Still many other top level officials will need to be confirmed by the Senate after Trump’s Inauguration Day.
One of his most controversial picks is Rex Tillerson. He used to be CEO of ExxonMobil Corporation and was announced on December 13. He would be the first secretary of state without government or military experience and new studies reveal he is wrong about climate risks.
During his confirmation hearing Tillerson accepted the human-caused global warming and that “the risk of climate change does exist and the consequences of it could be serious enough that action should be taken.” While he accepted this, he downplayed the risks saying, “The increase in the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having an effect, our ability to predict that effect is very limited.”
After his statement scientists argued climate models have been very accurate in their projections about the consequences of human pollution, there is only uncertainty in how quickly some of those consequences will be triggered. Nonetheless, recent studies have shown these are happening more quickly than anticipated therefore more urgency is needed to tackle the problem.
Trump has also been criticized as many of his picks lack expertise in the departments they’ll run.
“There are so many that come without a government background, the learning curve for a number of them will be higher than usual,” told the NY Times former senator Mel Martinez, a Republican who served as George W. Bush’s secretary of housing and urban development. “In the first quarter I would look for people bumping up against places because they don’t know government.”
Of the 14 departments nominated so far, six lack significant government expertise and Democrats are using this as they scrutinize the nominees.
This was like Trump was just picking names out of a hat,” told the NY Times Adam Jentleson, who was staffer for former Senate minority leader Harry Reid. “Why is Ben Carson running HUD? Why is Nikki Haley the ambassador to the United Nations? It shows that he cares more about doling out favors to his cronies than having people who know what they’re doing running the government.”
On the other hands, an article by Geoff Colvin for Fortune argues why this cabinet might not be so bad. He quotes the bestselling author and global advisor to CEOs Ram Charam, who said:
“In this age of digital transform, the underlying principle is Bayes’ Theorem, the mid-18 century equation at the foundation of every modern algorithm. The basic idea: You have a prior judgment about the future, and when you get new information, your ability to predict the future improves. With regard to policy in the Trump administration, that new information is the identity of the cabinet.”
“This cabinet is different from all previous ones in at least this way: Every member is seasoned in getting things done. They are doers. Business leaders have access to them directly. They are peers. Go work with them. Help shape the agenda. They may have little experience working directly with Congress, but all of them have worked with legislators in one way or another. Most or all of them will be confirmed by the Senate in short order, so there’s no time to lose.”
“Leaders go with the flow of reality. They also shape it. Now that Trump is president, suspend your previous beliefs. Go with the flow, and shape it.”
Only in the coming months and years we will know how this unseen Cabinets turns out to be.