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Donald Trump holds first meeting of full Cabinet

President Trump held the first meeting of his full Cabinet on Monday, blaming Senate Democrats for delaying some of his nominees but vowing to “return power to the people” with a wide range of initiatives to spur economic growth.

“We now have our Cabinet finally approved,” Mr. Trump said at the White House, surrounded by his full team of advisers. “We’re here to change Washington, return power to the people, and we’re here to give people a great shot at a great, great job.”

With reporters in the Cabinet room, Mr. Trump received brief status reports from all of his appointees and agency heads. Among them was embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said law-enforcement officials around the nation are “so thrilled” at the support they’re receiving from the new administration compared with the Obama administration.

“The response is fabulous around the country,” Mr. Sessions said.

“You’re right, Jeff, thank you very much,” Mr. Trump replied.

The president said his new team has made great progress in the first five months, despite unified opposition from congressional Democrats. He predicted the Senate would soon approve a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare without any help from Democrats.

“We will have zero backing from the Democrats,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re obstructionist, and that’s sad.”

The last of Mr. Trump’s nominees to lead a major Cabinet agency, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, was confirmed by the Senate on April 27. Among the last five administrations, only President Obama took longer to fill out his Cabinet — one day longer than Mr. Trump.

The past four administrations had a median wait time of one day between formal nomination and full Senate confirmation vote. The median wait time for Mr. Trump’s Cabinet nominees was 25 days.

Democrats have slow-walked some of the nominations, causing procedural delays and boycotting some committee votes. Mr. Trump also has been slow to submit some nominations, and several wealthy nominees with complex business holdings endured a longer review in the Office of Government Ethics.

As Mr. Trump submits more nominations for sub-Cabinet level posts, he complained that his nominees face “a very long process also, including Ethics Committee, which has become very difficult to deal with.”

Of 558 top posts requiring Senate confirmation, Mr. Trump still has yet to nominate anyone in 426 of them. The Partnership for Public Service said that as of May 20, 35 of Mr. Trump’s nominees had been confirmed, compared with 130 for Mr. Obama at the same point in 2009.

While Mr. Trump came into office promoting bipartisanship, he and his advisers increasingly are talking about governing with Republican votes only. The president cited the effort to replace Obamacare as an example.

“If we had the greatest bill in the history of the world, we wouldn’t get one vote from the Democrats,” the president said. “That’s the game. They think that’s their best political gain. They’re looking to ‘18.”

Mr. Trump also has encountered considerable pushback from Republicans on some major initiatives, such as cutting foreign aid in his proposed budget for next year. His first attempt to pass a health-care bill in the House fell apart amid bitter recriminations before the White House regrouped to sway enough conservative lawmakers.

The president’s daughter Ivanka, who serves as a special adviser to him, said Monday that she wasn’t prepared for the high level of partisanship when she moved her family from New York to Washington after the election.

“There is a level of viciousness that I was not expecting,” she said on “Fox & Friends.” “I was not expecting the intensity of this experience. Some of the distractions and some of the ferocity I was a little blindsided by on a personal level.”

But she added, “This isn’t supposed to be easy.”

With much of the media and Democrats focused on investigations into possible collusion by Trump campaign officials with Russia, Mr. Trump plowed ahead Monday with promises to build on economic gains since his election.

For example, he said the Labor Department will make a “major announcement” Wednesday about expanding apprenticeship programs.

“We’re going to help get our young people the technical training that they need to pursue really exciting careers, and careers that they can make good money, they can really earn a great, great salary and maybe even open small businesses,” Mr. Trump said.

The president’s 2018 budget proposal contains roughly the same amount for apprenticeship programs, $ 90 million, as was budgeted under former President Barack Obama. Mr. Acosta said administration wants to encourage unions and employers to partner more with colleges on apprenticeship programs.

“The building trades invest $ 1 billion a year of private money to develop a skilled workforce,” Mr. Acosta said. “So, I want to challenge the assumption that the only way to move policy is to increase government spending.”

The president also hinted strongly that the administration is nearing conclusions of reviews by the Commerce Department into illegal dumping of foreign-made steel and aluminum on the U.S. markets.

“We’re going to be having some very major legislation on the dumping of aluminum and various other things into our country, which is killing our workers. And we’ll be announcing that very soon,” Mr. Trump said.

Addressing his Cabinet, the president said, “If everyone in this room continues to do their jobs, then we can restore American prosperity and make millions and millions of dollars, and we can make for these people and the American dream come true, make the American dream come true for a lot of people that will not have had that experience without the election results that we had on November 8th.”


Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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