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Why Sen. Orrin Hatch suspended committee rules to advance Trump nominees

It was the most pivotal and decisive Senate hearing of the Trump administration so far. But the room was relatively empty. Just a few reporters made it.

With relatively little public notice, Senate Finance Committee Republicans voted Wednesday morning to approve two of President Donald Trump’s hotly debated cabinet nominees: Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin and Tom Price, Trump’s pick for the Department of Health and Human Services. For a second day, all Democrats on the committee declined to attend, leaving Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, without the single Democrat required for the committee to take votes.

Hatch and Republicans were able to move the nominations forward by voting to suspend that rule for the morning. It was a virtually unprecedented step, one Hatch said was approved by the Senate Parliamentarian.

NewsHour was among the few outlets to make the hearing. Listen to an impromptu Q&A between Hatch and PBS Newshour’s Lisa Desjardins after the committee adjourned.

Mnuchin and Price will now head to the full Senate for a vote.