The Senate has confirmed Merrick Garland as Attorney General by 70-30 (GOP leader Mitch McConnell was among 20 Republicans voting to confirm) and Martha Fudge as Secretary of HUD by 66-34.
I generally think that unless there are serious reasons to reject a nominee (like that Xavier Becerra is a vicious leftist partisan with zero qualifications for running Health and Human Services), then Presidents should be allowed to pick the people they want for their team. Elections have consequences, and this is one of them, as unhappy as it might be.
However, in these cases, the Republican confirmation votes are drawing heavy criticism.
Garland was so evasive and acted so clueless when asked about major issues he’ll be dealing with that he was either lying under oath or he hasn’t looked at a newscast in 20 years. Neither bodes well for his job. His refusal to say whether he would kill the Durham investigation or prevent its findings from being made public virtually insures that the only plotters of a genuine coup against the legitimately-elected government in the past five years will get off scot-free.
As for Fudge, as Matt Margolis recounts at the link, she carries more baggage than American Airlines. She has a long history of being a radical race-baiter, viciously insulting Republicans, and spouting insane racial conspiracy theories. And she got the votes of 16 Republicans.
Again, while I generally think Presidents should be allowed to pick their teams, both of these nominations could have been confirmed 51-50. It wouldn’t have prevented them from taking office, but at least it wouldn’t have given Americans the impression that these are acceptable, bipartisan, mainstream choices when they are anything but.