WASHINGTON, Feb.1 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Senate Republicans on Wednesday morning suspended standard committee rules so as to advance two key cabinet nominees picked by President Donald Trump with no Democrat present.
The move came one day after Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee refused to attend a panel vote on Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary and Tom Price as secretary of Health and Human Services, arguing the pair had made misleading statements that needed to be rectified.
Under the rules of the committee, at least one member of each party are required to be in attendance for the panel's work to proceed.
However, following Democrats' boycott, Republican members of the committee on Wednesday morning agreed by unanimous consent to suspend the rules and thus give Mnuchin and Price green lights.
"We took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues," Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the Finance Committee, said at the opening of the meeting.
"It's just another way of roughing up the president's nominees," Hatch said, "They have nobody to blame but themselves."
"Both nominees have yet to answer important questions that impact the American people," committee Democrats argued in a letter sent to Hatch Wednesday.
Democrats said Mnuchin should answer more questions about how OneWest Bank, which he headed after the financial crisis, handled foreclosures for mortgages it held, and also whether he was sufficiently forthcoming about foreign entities he helped establish.
Meanwhile, Price's investment activity, including whether his political actions benefitted his personal portfolio, also raises more questions, the Democrats claimed.
However, Republicans slammed Democrats as being obstructionists while dismissed their concerns with the two nominees.
"Dr. Price's account of the investment hasn't really been substantially refuted, let alone disproven," said Hatch, adding that the Mnuchin controversy is moot.
The nominees now head to the Senate floor and only require a simple majority of votes to get the final confirmation by the 100-seat Senate where Republicans hold 52 seats.