Durbin Warns Against Confirmation Hearings Before FBI Vets Nominees

CHICAGO (CBS) — Senate confirmation hearings have been scheduled this week for some of the nominees for President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet, but Illinois’ senior senator was warning Republicans to slow down.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said he doesn’t like it one bit that Republicans in Congress are about to begin confirmation hearings before Trump’s nominees have gone through FBI background checks, or submitted ethics and financial statements.

“That is unacceptable,” he said.

The senator said President Barack Obama played by the rules when he made appointments that required Senate approval, and so should Trump.

“When Penny Pritzker wanted to become Secretary of Commerce, she had an extensive financial résumé. It took six months for them to clear her résumé to make certain there were no conflicts of interest,” he said.

Durbin said Democrats want to make sure appointee confirmations are done in a timely manner, but also in a way that follows the law.

The senator joined Congressman Mike Quigley, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and other local elected officials Monday morning at the announcement of $1.1 billion in federal funding for the CTA to help pay for upgrades on the Red, Brown, and Purple Lines.

With Trump about to enter the White House, Durbin said it will be a tougher challenge to secure such funds for vital infrastructure projects than it was with Chicago native Obama in the Oval Office.

“We’re going to continue to make sure we have the best applications, and the best arguments, and I’m going to do my best with my colleagues here to make certain that resources are coming out of Congress that can be allocated by the new administration to help us,” Durbin said.

Schakowsky said Obama understands how important infrastructure projects are, and so should Trump

“If he is serious about infrastructure development, he can count on the Democrats to be working with him. It seems that he’s saying – now that the Republicans don’t like to spend on that – that this may not be such a top priority any longer, and that’s a big disappointment,” she said.

Quigley said Democrats cannot let Trump back off his plans for big infrastructure projects to fix roads, bridges and airports; but he also said if the president-elect expects Democratic support on those projects, he has to get rid of some of the archaic ideas he discussed during the campaign.

“One is that there be no federal money for sanctuary cities, and the second is if they expect us to waive anything protecting union rights, they’re not going to get our help on that either,” he said.

The $1.1 billion federal grant approved by the Obama administration on Sunday was granted only after the city rushed to approve a new transit tax-increment financing district on the North Side to help come up with the necessary matching funds.

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