Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) discusses Republican plans to repeal Obamacare and how the Senate will handle confirming President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet appointees.
Face the Nation moderator John Dickerson said the Democratic argument is there is a "qualitative difference" between Obama nominees and Trump nominees attributing it to the "complexity" of Trump appointees.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Let me move on to nominees. The Office of Government Ethics has asked the Senate to slow down the confirmation process. The executive director wrote, “I’m not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominees had completed the ethics review process.” Will you slow down the process?
MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, we’re—we’re still in the process of getting the papers in. I think at least five of the nominees have all of their papers in. You know, what this is about, John, the Democrats are really frustrated that they lost the election. I was in Senator Schumer’s position eight years ago. I know how it feels when you’re coming into a new situation, that the other guys won the election. What did we do? We confirmed seven cabinet appointments the day President Obama was sworn in. We didn’t like most of them either. But he won the election. So all of these little procedural complaints are related to their frustration at having not only lost the White House, but having lost the Senate. I understand that. But we need to, sort of, grow up here and get past that. We need to have the president’s national security team in place on day one. And papers are still coming in. And so I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to get up to seven nominees on day one, just like we did eight years ago.
JOHN DICKERSON: Should it be a rule that the papers come in and then you have the hearing?
MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, on Hillary Clinton, for example, we had a hearing before her FBI report was completed. The-- the real thing is the vote on the floor. And we want to have all the records in-- all the papers completed before they’re actually confirmed on the Senate floor.
JOHN DICKERSON: So nothing’s slowing down? Nothing’s slowing down in terms of--
MITCH MCCONNELL: No—
JOHN DICKERSON: -- the confirmation hearings?
MITCH MCCONNELL: -- I don’t think so. We want to treat -- they should want to treat President-Elect Trump just like we treated President-Elect Obama.
JOHN DICKERSON: Wouldn’t their response be, “There’s a qualitative difference between the Obama nominees and the Trump nominees?” You’ve got people here who have these big private industry successes, but also a lot of complexity.
MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, I could have made that same argument eight years ago! (LAUGHS)
JOHN DICKERSON: Were they as complex then?
MITCH MCCONNELL: Well, they were wildly liberal people.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, that’s ideology, though.
MITCH MCCONNELL: Yeah, but what’s the difference? I mean (LAUGHS), we found most of his cabinet appointments just as disturbing as they would find President Trump’s. And that’s what happens when you lose the election.
JOHN DICKERSON: I guess what Democrats would say is that these are—this is—these are ethical questions. And they would say, and I bet they would quote you back from your—from you book about the Senate, which is that “the Senate”, as you say, “there’s a value to slow and steady deliberation”.
MITCH MCCONNELL: Yeah, most of the time that’s true. But if you’ve got a brand new administration coming into office you want to have, at the very least, a national security team in place on day one. And I’m hopeful and optimistic that that will be the case this time as well.