A day before confirmation hearings officially begin, Seattle environmental activists took their concerns straight to the Senators who now hold the power to challenge President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet choices.
“What we need now is more than understanding,” said Ben Smith of Greenpeace USA. “We need more than just posting on social media. We're going to need them using any tool in government; we're going to need them to speak out more openly about where is the line.”
Smith and other demonstrators say they're worried about all of Trump's environmental related picks from EPA to Interior, but they’re especially troubled by former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, whose confirmation hearing for Secretary of State begins this Wednesday.
“Trump may have found the only person who has more conflicts of interest than Trump himself to be picked for Secretary of States, so, no I do not believe it's a done deal,” Smith told KING 5.
While confirmation hearings could showcase fiery questioning by Senators trying to unearth information, Trump’s appointees only require a simple majority once the vote makes it the floor.
A move by Senate Democrats in 2013 made it more difficult for the minority party to block a nominee through a filibuster, in an effort to move along President Barack Obama’s cabinet picks during his second term.
Related: Reid, Democrats trigger ‘nuclear’ option; eliminate most filibusters on nominees via Washington Post
In all, nine appointees are scheduled for hearings this week, beginning tomorrow with Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, nominated for Attorney General.
Tillerson’s hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, along with Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, Transportation nominee Elaine Chao and CIA Director nominee Mike Pompeo.
“I think it’s important to give the person who won the election a chance to be able to govern,” said State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, who worked on Trump’s state campaign last year. “Under President Trump, I think we're going to bring the pendulum back to center. We're going to protect our environment. We're also going to protect our jobs and protect working families here in America.”
But if and when policies change, local activists say expect resistance.
“We want climate denial out of the White House, and the American people need to hear about that,” said Ben Smith. “They need to be in the conversation, so I'm as inspired as I've ever been that we're going to resist here at home and nationwide to show we deserve a better world, and we're going to fight for that with every breath we have.”