Cortez Masto, Heller split again on Carson for HUD Secretary; both support Perry for Energy Secretary
President Donald Trump’s Cabinet is continuing to take shape despite occasionally tepid Republican support and varying levels of Democratic resistance.
The Nevada Independent is tracking how the state’s two senators — Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto — are voting on some of Trump’s major Cabinet and administration picks that require Senate approval.
The chart below shows public positions taken by both Heller and Cortez Masto on how they intend to vote on individual nominees, as well as the confirmation status of major Trump administration appointees. Of the 17 Cabinet and other executive nominees confirmed by the full Senate, Heller has voted to confirm all of them while Cortez Masto voted against nine of the nominees.
Look below the chart for daily updates on how Heller and Cortez Masto vote on specific members of Trump's proposed cabinet.
This story was first posted on Jan. 23 at 6:59 p.m. and has been frequently updated since.
March 2 -
Dr. Ben Carson was confirmed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday on a 58-41 vote, with Heller voting to confirm and Cortez Masto joining 40 other Democrats in opposition.
In a statement released yesterday, Cortez Masto called Carson "ill-equipped" to lead the department.
"After meeting with him and listening to his answers at his confirmation hearing, I was not convinced that I could count on Dr. Carson to fight on behalf of hardworking Americans," she said in a statement.
Both senators voted to confirm former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as Energy Secretary, who was approved on a 62-37 vote.
Cortez Masto was one of four Democrats who voted to support Perry in a January committee vote, and said in an earlier statement that despite her share of concerns about Perry, she was confident that he would oppose re-visiting the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear repository site.
"While we do not see eye to eye on all issues, I believe Governor Perry understands the importance of this issue and is someone I can work with to ensure Yucca Mountain never sees the light of day," she said in an earlier statement.
March 1 -
Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke has been confirmed as Interior Secretary in a 68-31 vote by the U.S. Senate. Cortez Masto and Heller both voted in favor.
Cortez Masto voted in late January to advance Zinke's nomination out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to a full vote of the Senate.
"After carefully reviewing Rep. Zinke’s record, I’m hopeful that he will work with federal, state and local officials to address the needs of our state," she said in a statement at the time.
Cortez Masto said Wednesday she will vote against Ben Carson's confirmation as Housing and Urban Development Secretary after voting to advance his nomination out of committee in late January. Her staff indicated at the time that her committee vote did not indicate she would support Carson in the full Senate confirmation vote.
Cortez Masto said in a statement that, after meeting with Carson and listening to answers at his confirmation hearing, she was "not convinced" she could count on hm to "fight on behalf of hardworking Americans."
"I cannot place the lives of thousands of Nevadans who depend on HUD in the hands of someone who is ill-equipped to lead it," she said.
Heller also voted to advance Carson's nomination out of committee in January. The confirmation vote is expected to be held on Thursday.
The U.S. Senate confirmed billionaire investor Wilbur Ross today as Commerce Secretary in a 72-27 vote. Cortez Masto and Heller both voted in favor of Ross, as expected.
The senators, who sit on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, voted last month to advance Ross's nomination onto the full Senate. At the time, Cortez Masto said in a statement that his support for programs, research initiatives and data analytics was "especially reassuring for Nevada's economy."
"While some of Mr. Ross’s business ties are concerning, I believe that he understands what it takes to grow and strengthen the American economy, which is the ultimate role of Commerce Secretary," she said.
Feb. 17 -
Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt was confirmed to lead the Environmental Protection Agency in a 52-46 vote despite efforts from Democrats to delay the vote after a judge ruled Pruitt must release 3,000 emails relating to his communication with oil, gas and coal companies.
“With the impending release of as many as 3,000 emails on this matter, it is only right that we delay Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation vote until we have had time to thoroughly review this information," Cortez Masto said in a statement this morning. "It is our job as U.S. Senators to ensure nominees are adequately vetted and failure to do so is a disservice to Americans.”
Heller voted for Pruitt's nomination while Cortez Masto, who expressed earlier opposition to Pruitt, voted against.
Feb. 15 -
Cortez Masto is opposing Rep. Mick Mulvaney's nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget, saying in a statement that his "misguided beliefs on government spending" run counter to the office's responsibilities. His confirmation vote is set for Thursday morning.
"He is well known for spending his congressional career strongly opposing federal spending, disregarding the catastrophic long term economic impacts of breaching the debt limit, advocating for irresponsibly shutting down the government and even refusing to give emergency financial aid to communities ravaged by natural disasters," Cortez Masto said. "Rep. Mulvaney's repeated calls to slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are a reckless affront to the millions of Americans who rely on these programs."
Feb. 14 -
Linda McMahon, co-founder and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, was confirmed by the Senate on a 81-19 vote to lead the Small Business Administration.
Heller and Cortez Masto both voted in favor of her nomination
Feb. 13 -
Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin, a former hedge fund manager, was approved by the Senate on a party-line vote Monday.
Cortez Masto, who earlier indicated she would oppose Mnuchin, delivered her first Senate floor speech before the vote opposing his nomination.
"Our next Treasury Secretary should have a proven record of fighting to expand economic opportunities for everyone," she said. "That is what Americans deserve. Yet, from where I stand, Mr. Mnuchin falls far short of that test."
Heller, who had earlier asked Mnuchin several pointed questions about his tenure at OneWest bank during a committee hearing, voted alongside his Republican colleagues to approve him on a 53-47 vote.
Both Nevada senators voted to confirm David Shulkin as Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, who was confirmed on a 100-0 vote. Shulkin was appointed as Under Secretary of Health for the department in 2015 by former President Barack Obama.
Cortez Masto said she was confident that Shulkin would continue to be a strong advocate for veterans.
"I voted in favor of Dr. Shulkin’s nomination because I know he will help us keep the promises we have made to our veterans, and he has voiced opposition to any efforts to privatize the Department," she said in a statement.
Feb. 10 -
The Senate confirmed Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services in a 52-47 vote early Friday morning.
As anticipated, Heller voted for Price's confirmation while Cortez Masto voted against. In a statement yesterday, Cortez Masto said she could not "in good conscience" support Price, who she said wants to "undo the very programs that have had a proven positive impact on Americans' physical and financial health."
Feb. 9 -
Cortez Masto plans to vote against Tom Price's confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. The junior senator from Nevada said in a statement today that Price has "spent his career working to weaken and dismantle basic programs and services" that the department offers and said she could not "in good conscience" support him.
“We need someone who will ensure HHS continues to serve in the best interest of the American people, not someone who wants to undo the very programs that have had a proven, positive impact on Americans’ physical and financial health," she said.
Heller voted unanimously with the Senate Finance Committee to advance Price's nomination to the full Senate. The final vote on Price's confirmation is expected either later tonight or early Friday morning.
Feb. 8 -
Jeff Sessions has been confirmed as U.S. attorney general, with Nevada two senators again divided over a Trump cabinet pick.
Cortez Masto came out against Sessions last month, saying she was concerned by his "controversial and racially insensitive rhetoric" and his "far-right positions" in a statement.
"His record in public office indicates to me that he often hasn’t recognized the humanity of the people hurt by his extreme positions, whether it’s undocumented immigrants or the African American community or LGBT Americans," she said.
Heller voted in favor of Session's nomination. His spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Feb. 7 -
Betsy DeVos has been confirmed as Education Secretary after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote, the first time a vice president has done so for a Cabinet nomination in U.S. history.
As expected, Heller voted in favor of DeVos's confirmation while Cortez Masto voted against.
Heller faced mounting pressure early last week over whether he would back DeVos, eventually coming out in support of her in a Wednesday statement. He said that Gov. Brian Sandoval's support for DeVos "weighed heavily" in his decision to support her.
"Betsy DeVos understands the need to bring back education control to state and local boards, and I look forward to working with her to empower our parents, teachers, students, and local education officials," Heller said in the statement.
Still, constituents flooded his office with calls — and even faxes — expressing their displeasure with his position and urging him to change his stance late last week.
Ironically, it was former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid who helped tie Democrats' hands in opposing DeVos and other Cabinet nominees. Reid got rid of the so-called "nuclear option" in 2013, eliminating the 60-vote filibuster threshold for presidential nominations and requiring only a simple majority to confirm presidential nominees.
Feb. 2 -
Heller joined his Republican colleagues in unanimously voting to advance Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin in a 14-0 committee vote on Wednesday with no Democrats present.
The committee, including Heller, also voted unanimously to advance Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price.
Both nominees still need to be approved by the entire Senate.
Feb. 1 -
Heller announced he is backing Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, saying she shares many of the same points of view as Gov. Brian Sandoval. The governor announced his support for DeVos alongside 19 other governors in a January 9 letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
"Having (Sandoval's) support weighed heavily on my decision to vote for her confirmation," Heller said in a statement. "Betsy DeVos understands the need to bring back education control to state and local boards, and I look forward to working with her to empower our parents, teachers, students, and local education officials."
Heller was expected to be the key vote on whether she was confirmed and had a convivial meeting with her earlier today.
Read Heller's full statement here.
Earlier in the day, the Senate confirmed former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State in a narrow 56-43 vote Wednesday. Cortez Masto voted "no" on Tillerson as expected, while Heller voted "yes."
Jan. 31 -
As expected, Heller and Cortez Masto both voted to confirm Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao in a full Senate vote today. Chao, the former Secretary of Labor, was approved on a 91-6 vote.
Cortez Masto was one of four Democrats who voted to advance Energy Secretary nominee Rick Perry to a vote of the full Senate. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 17-6 to confirm the former Texas governor.
Cortez Masto pressed Perry over his stance on the stalled plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain during confirmation hearings a couple of weeks ago.
In a statement, Cortez Masto said she and Perry "do not see eye to eye on all issues," but that she believes "Governor Perry understands the importance of this issue and is someone I can work with to ensure Yucca Mountain never sees the light of day."
Cortez Masto also voted to support Interior Department Secretary nominee Ryan Zinke in a committee vote today, saying she agreed with his support for public lands while expressing concern over his position on creating national monuments through the Antiquities Act.
"After carefully reviewing Rep. Zinke’s record, I’m hopeful that he will work with federal, state and local officials to address the needs of our state," she said in a statement.
Cortez Masto additionally told Channel 8 anchor Patrick Walker on Monday that she'll oppose Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin.
Jan. 30 -
In a statement sent to reporters ahead of a likely vote, Cortez Masto said she will oppose former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson's nomination as Secretary of State.
"I do not see how Mr. Tillerson will put the interests of the United States ahead of his loyalty to Big Oil and Vladimir Putin, or uphold our constitutional right to religious freedom," she said in a statement. "Mr. Tillerson is not the right person to represent the United States around the world as the Secretary of State, and I cannot support his nomination.”
Her full statement is here.
Jan. 24 -
Nevada senators on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted Tuesday to advance two of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointees: Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary and Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary.
Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican Sen. Dean Heller voted for both nominees as part of the committee. She had earlier voiced support for Chao, and released a statement today saying she will support Ross despite some of his “concerning” business ties.
The two Nevada senators also voted to advance Dr. Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Cortez Masto’s staff noted that she has not committed to supporting Carson during the full Senate confirmation vote.
4:15 p.m. update: Heller and Cortez Masto both voted to confirm former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as the new ambassador to the United Nations. Only four senators voted against confirming Haley to the position, according to NBC News: Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.