Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Tuesday voted to confirm former Princeton University dean Cecilia Rouse as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, casting his first vote in favor of one of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet-level nominees after a dozen straight “no” votes.
Rouse was easily confirmed by a vote of 95-4, with the only “no” votes coming from Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) – all of whom have opposed more than half of Biden’s nominees so far.
Hawley remains the reigning champion when it comes to voting against Biden’s nominees, followed by Scott and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) at 11 “no” votes, Cotton at 10 and Tuberville at 9.
The list of Senate Republicans who have voted against the most Biden nominees is filled with 2024 presidential hopefuls, including Hawley, Cruz, Paul, Cotton and Cruz, as well as Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), both widely rumored as potential candidates, have voted against 6 and 5 Biden nominees respectively.
Only four Republicans have voted to confirm all 13 Biden nominees put to a vote so far: Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
Votes on a president’s initial nominees proved a particularly strong indicator of an opposition party senator’s presidential ambitions in the last election cycle. Five of the six senators who voted against the most Trump nominees in 2017 – Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and now-Vice President Kamala Harris – mounted 2020 presidential bids three years later. Gillibrand voted against all but two nominees.
As with many of his “no” votes on Biden Cabinet nominees, Hawley – one of just two senators to vote against Lloyd Austin for Defense Secretary and just seven to vote against Denis McDonough for Veterans Affairs Secretary and Tom Vilsack for Agriculture Secretary – has not yet given a reason for his vote to confirm Rouse. Forbes has reached out to his office for comment.
“We’ve got some in our caucus, the nomination process is pretty easy because they just vote against everybody,” Murkowski told reporters on Tuesday, adding, “we all have an obligation to figure out how we’re going to vet the nominee.” Murkowski noted that any senator can theoretically be the deciding vote in a 50-50 Senate, but that voting against every nominee “doesn’t necessarily put you in that swing category.”