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Trump cabinet nominees concern Schumer, excite Collins

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

As President-Elect Donald Trump continues to pick his nominees for his Cabinet, some are raising eyebrows while others are raising concerns. The New York Democrat who will soon become the Senate Minority Leader has concerns about several picks.

Just a few hours after Trump confirmed Rex Tillerson was his choice for Secretary of State, Senator Charles Schumer appeared in Buffalo and discussed the selection while in town. While he told reporters he will give all nominees a fair chance at their respective hearings, the ExxonMobil executive's warm relations with Russian president Vladimir Putin bother him.

Schumer called Putin a "bully" who has hurt many Eastern European nations including Ukraine and the Baltic states. Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship by the Russian leader in 2013. His company could earn billions in Russian projects that would be allowed to proceed, if not for sanctions imposed following Russia's conflict with Ukraine over the annexation of Crimea. 

"I'm troubled by the fact that he has opposed the sanctions that we have put on Putin and Russia for their actions in the Ukraine and the Baltics," Schumer said. 

Other Trump choices of concern to Schumer are Congressman Tom Price, the candidate to lead Health and Human Services, and Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder.

"He has advocated privatizing, getting rid of Medicare and Social Security," said Schumer of Price. "I believe in Medicare and Social Security. I've been a defender of Medicare and Social Security. I have a lot of tough questions for him."

Late last week, during an appearance in Amherst to promote the 21st Century Cures Act, Republican Congressman and early Trump supporter Chris Collins acknowledged that some of the nominees may be unconventional but believes they are nevertheless qualified. 

Some picks, Collins said, have impressed Democrats, including the nomination of James Mattis to lead the Department of Defense.

"While there will be disagreement on, certainly, the selections for the Department of Labor and the head of the EPA, no one is saying that those two individuals (Puzder and Scott Pruitt, respectively) are not people of action and focus and accomplishment. They just disagree on the fundamental premise of the role of those two departments," Collins said to WBFO.

"I'm very thrilled and I think most Americans should be," said Collins during last week's local appearance. "They're a lot of very successful people, now giving back at a point in their career where they're actually sacrificing a lot to come to Washington, for 60- and 70-hour work weeks at a point they don't need to work."

Schumer, who vows to ask tough questions at the upcoming nomination hearings, becomes Minority Leader on January 3, 2017.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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