Today on the Hill: Sessions Confirmed, Price Vote Expected Tomorrow; Alabama to Appoint New Senator

With the House in recess due to the Democratic issues retreat in Baltimore, floor action today will be limited to another bout in the Senate battle over President Trump’s Cabinet nominees. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) confirmation yesterday as Attorney General means that Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is next in the queue. Like the other nominees confirmed this week, Price is expected to draw no votes from most of the Democratic caucus – in this case, over his trading of health-care stocks and outspoken stance on fully repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Republicans are expected to remain united in their support, meaning that his final confirmation vote – expected either late tonight or at some point tomorrow – is a foregone conclusion. Cloture has also been filed on the nomination of Steven Mnuchin to be Treasury Secretary, although his confirmation is likely to slip into next week.

Adding a wrinkle to the action in the upper chamber is Sessions’ now vacant seat from the state of Alabama. Republican Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley named his selection to fill the seat this morning, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who will need to win a special election in 2018 before pursuing a possible full six-year term in 2020. Some observers have suggested that Strange may be the choice because Bentley – who is facing allegations of a sex scandal and was under an impeachment investigation by the state legislature – will now be able to choose a new state attorney general that may be less inclined to prosecuting him. In any case, the Senate will formally allocate a Certificate of Appointment for the State of Alabama at 2:00 p.m. today, clearing the way for Strange to join the upper chamber after a swearing-in ceremony that is due to take place in Alabama today.