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Vote Tracker: How Bernie Sanders & Patrick Leahy Voted On Trump's Cabinet Picks

Carolyn Kaster
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, questions Budget Director-designate Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 20.

President Donald Trump's cabinet nominees have drawn heavy criticism from Democrats in the Senate, including from Sen. Patrick Leahy and Sen. Bernie Sanders. As the Senate votes on the confirmation of Trump's nominees, VPR is tracking the Vermont senators' votes.What is required for a nominee to take office?

Most nominees must get approval in at least two separate votes before taking over the job for which they've been appointed.

First, the nominee faces hearings in a Senate committee relevant to the job they've been appointed to fill. For example, Sen. Jeff Sessions faced hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee after he was nominated to be attorney general, since the attorney general's office is closely tied to the judicial system.

After the hearings, the committee members vote on whether or not they support the nominee. If the majority of the committee approves of the nominee, the next step is a vote of the full U.S. Senate. If the majority of Senators vote in favor of the nominee, that nominee is confirmed and may take office.

Committee Power

While Vermont's senators make up just one-fiftieth of the overall Senate vote on Trump's cabinet nominees, their positions on key committees give Leahy and Sanders additional influence in the confirmation proceedings for certain nominees. Here's how that breaks down for Trump's cabinet picks:

Sen. Patrick Leahy is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for preliminary approval of Trump's attorney general pick, Jeff Sessions. Leahy has said that he does not support Sessions' nomination.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is on the...

  • Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, responsible for preliminary approval of secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos.
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which gave its approval to Ryan Zinke's nomination for secretary of the interior, and to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry's nomination to run the Department of Energy.
  • Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which is responsible for preliminary approval of Trump's controversial EPA nominee, Scott Pruitt.

How did Vermont's senators vote on Trump's cabinet nominees?


A check mark indicates that the nominee has been confirmed by the full Senate.

Update 11:21 a.m. Feb. 16, 2016 This post was updated to reflect Andrew Puzder's withdrawalfrom the nomination process for Secretary of Labor. The table above will reflect President Trump's new Secretary of Labor nominee once the nomination is announced.

Correction 9:13 a.m. Feb. 2, 2016 An earlier version of this post contained inaccurate information about the committees responsible for Ryan Zinke and Rick Perry's nominations. The above text has been corrected.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
Sara Simon was VPR's web developer.
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