Trump Nominees Make Clear Plans to Sweep Away Obama Policies
Trump Nominees Make Clear Plans to Sweep Away Obama Policies:- President-elect Donald J. Trump’s cabinet nominees, while moderating some of their stances, have made it clear during two weeks of hearings that they intend to work hard to sweep away President Obama’s domestic policy by embracing a deeply conservative approach to governing.
In dozens of hours of testimony, Mr. Trump’s nominees told senators that they favored less regulation, a smaller federal government, more state control over policy decisions and taxpayer money, and greater personal responsibility by Americans across the country.
The sometimes contentious hearings continued up until the day before the inauguration, as Mr. Trump triumphantly arrived in Washington on Thursday to kick off three highly choreographed days that will usher Republicans back into full political power in Washington for the first time in more than a decade.
After arriving at Joint Base Andrews on a military plane that will become Air Force One the next time he steps onboard, Mr. Trump visited the Trump International Hotel before making an appearance at the Lincoln Memorial, where thousands watched an inaugural concert.
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“All over the world they are talking about it. All over the world,” Mr. Trump told the crowd before a fireworks display over the National Mall. “And I love you folks, and we’re going to work together. And we are going to make America great again.”
That work will be shaped by the new president’s cabinet, which is coming under scrutiny as lawmakers from both parties press the nominees about their fealty to Mr. Trump’s campaign promises and their adherence to their own long records.
Many of the nominees sought to shave the sharp edges off Mr. Trump’s more provocative campaign promises and their own past decisions and statements. Some backed away completely from past assertions, making clean breaks with Mr. Trump on climate change or the need to build a wall at the Mexican border.
Others remained vague about their commitment to the most divisive proposals in their policy areas, leaving a veil of uncertainty over what they would do to lead their departments if confirmed.
Ben Carson, the housing secretary nominee, told lawmakers that “safety net programs are important.” But he did not disown past statements about the failure of government interventions and his belief that poverty was “really more of a choice than anything else.”
Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency nominee, told senators that he now believed that “climate change is not a hoax.” But he also forcefully advocated a far smaller and more restrained agency, while criticizing federal rules established by Mr. Obama’s administration to protect air and water and tackle climate change.
Betsy DeVos, a longtime supporter of charter schools, pledged to work for “common ground,” but did not back down on the use of federal money for private and religious schools. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the attorney general nominee, vowed to be “impartial and enforce laws that I didn’t vote for,” while holding firm to a decades-long conservative approach to immigration and civil rights.
Several Democratic lawmakers appeared exasperated as they sought to pin the nominees down on the actions they intended to take in office.
“Will you insist upon that equal accountability in any K-12 school or educational program that receives federal funding whether public, public charter or private?” Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, asked Ms. DeVos.
“I support accountability,” she said, repeating that phrase three times in response to Mr. Kaine’s efforts to extract a more detailed answer.
But there is no doubt that Mr. Trump’s nominees collectively will lead an effort to undermine the legacy of Mr. Obama on the environment, health care, immigration, civil rights and education.
In his remarks to lawmakers, Representative Tom Price of Georgia, the nominee for secretary of health and human services, promised to lead an effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Representative Ryan Zinke of Montana, the nominee to lead the Interior Department, said he supported drilling, mining and logging on federal lands. Mr. Sessions came to the defense of police departments, saying officers had been “unfairly maligned and blamed” for the actions of a few in cases involving the deaths of young black men.