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Trump’s cabinet : the people behind our country

By Scout Van Cise, opinion editor

donald_trump_signs_orders_to_green-light_the_keystone_xl_and_dakota_access_pipelinesNo matter your political views, Donald Trump is the President of the United States. It’s a common belief that he will be calling all the shots for the next four years, but what most people forget is that the American government is divided into federal executive departments that involve almost every important subject matter with which the country is faced.

These departments are led by the Presidential Cabinet, handpicked by the current president to fill the 15 positions available. After being selected by the president, the nominees are presented to the Senate for either confirmation or rejection. The Senate consists of two senators from each state, a total of 100 voters. In the event of a 50-50 tie, the vice president makes the final decision, which has only happened once in history. That one time happened to be last week, over the Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos.

The Department of Education is in control of all student loans, grants, and laws in all forms of education. It provides federal funding for every type of school there is, from public, to private, to college. The Secretary of Education is in charge of managing a one trillion dollar student loan bank as well as protecting students from waste, fraud, and abuse of money and educational resources.

I cannot stress enough how unqualified DeVos is for this title. She admitted in her confirmation hearings that she has never been responsible for a student loan of any kind, nor has she managed any sort of bank to demonstrate that she will adequately manage the department’s finances. DeVos also argued during those hearings that guns may be necessary in schools to prevent outside predators such as… wait for it… grizzly bears.

While DeVos isn’t one of Trump’s better choices for his cabinet, some of his nominees are qualified and experienced in their fields. Elaine Chao, the new Secretary of Transportation, served from 2001-2009 as Secretary of Labor under the Bush administration. Chao has a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School as well as serving several leadership positions such as director of the Peace Corps and the CEO of United Way of America, a nonprofit organization to better communities around the country. Chao won the confirmation vote with only six of the 100 senators voting against her. Chao is an example of one of Trump’s stronger cabinet members, but some are not as promising.

Rick Perry, Trump’s choice for Secretary of Energy, has little to no experience in his potential field. Perry himself ran for president in 2011, and actually planned on eliminating three executive departments, one of them being the Department of Energy. While Perry is the former governor of Texas with a special interest in fossil fuels, the department mainly deals with the development and safety of nuclear material. With Perry’s bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M University, he is not exactly what one might call an expert in nuclear devices. Rick Perry has yet to be confirmed as Secretary of Energy, but other cabinet members who have been confirmed are much better prepared for their posts. 

Confirmed Secretary of Defense James Mattis is retired general of the United States Marine Corps. Mattis served in the military for 41 years fighting in the Persian Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan, holding leadership positions such as head of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command. Mattis was confirmed with an overwhelming 98 votes in his favor, proof that the vast majority of U.S. senators trust that he will do his job as the head of the Defense Department.

Trump’s cabinet is still taking form, and not all members have been confirmed yet. Despite opposition and doubts, these 15 people will be making major decisions for our country for the next four years, so all we can do is hope that they will succeed.

staceyanderton1 View All

Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School

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