U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said he will not vote for two of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, Rex Tillerson for secretary of state and Jeff Sessions for attorney general.

Regarding Tillerson, Schatz said in a press release Sunday, “From international human rights to the grave threats facing our country, Mr. Tillerson’s views do not align with well-established, bipartisan foreign policy. The United States has built our global leadership on a foundation of core American values of liberty and justice for all — values that were missing from Mr. Tillerson’s testimony in his nomination hearing. The concerns I had regarding the South China Sea and Russia also deepened as we went through the confirmation process.”

Tillerson is the former CEO of ExxonMobil. Sessions is a Republican senator from Alabama.

Of Sessions, Schatz said in a recent press release:

“As a U.S. attorney and in the Senate, he failed to protect fundamental civil rights, including the right to vote. When he had the chance to protect equal rights for LGBTQ Americans and help reform a racially biased and outdated sentencing system, he refused to do so.

When the Department of Justice worked to end racial discrimination and the use of excessive force by police, he stood in opposition. And when confronted with the reality of the president’s inhumane plan to deport undocumented children who call the United States home, he showed zero empathy.”

Senator Brian Schatz Washington DC during interview w/ Kirstin. 19 jan 2017.. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Sen. Brian Schatz said Rex Tellerson’s views “do not align with well-established, bipartisan foreign policy.” Cory Lum/Civil Beat

It is not clear how Mazie Hirono, Hawaii’s other Democrat in the Senate, will vote on the Tillerson nomination.

Earlier this month she announced her opposition to Sessions in a press release: “I will vote against the nomination of Jeff Sessions to serve as Attorney General because I am deeply concerned about how he would use his prosecutorial discretion to uphold voting rights, protect civil rights, and protect a woman’s right to choose.”

As of this week, Schatz has voted in favor of five of Trump’s nominees: James Mattis for secretary of defense, John Kelly for Homeland Security secretary, Nikki Haley for U.N. ambassador, U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo for CIA director and Ben Carson for Housing and Urban Development secretary.

The Carson vote was in the Senate Banking Committee; he awaits a full Senate conformation vote.

Hirono voted for Mattis, Kelly and Haley, but against Pompeo.

In a Slate article titled What the Hell Is Wrong With Senate Democrats? the author took Schatz and other Senate Democrats to task for supporting Trump’s nominees.

While nominees like Mattis and Haley have broad appeal, the article noted, other nominations like Pompeo and Carson are more controversial.

Meanwhile, Democrat opposition to Betsy DeVos as secretary of education and Scott Pruitt as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency is building. Schatz has already announced his strong opposition to Pruitt, who has worked to block EPA regulations.

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