When I called my Senator’s and Representative’s offices earlier this week to voice my objection to (among other things) Trump’s pick of the odious Steve Bannon as his chief advisor, one of the things we talked about is that Congress is fairly limited in what it can do about it.
Writing at Bloomberg, Jonathan Bernstein has an idea:
If Bannon is to be defeated, the Republican senators who opposed Trump in the election might be the key.
Though the Senate can't directly block Bannon, individual senators can place a "hold" on one or more Cabinet or executive-branch nominees and refuse to budge unless he is removed from consideration. Honoring these holds is at the discretion of the majority leader. If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tries to move ahead despite the objections, then Democrats and some Republicans could vote down Cabinet picks until Trump relents.
Even if Republican senators like Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake, who would not support Trump in the campaign, won't fight, it's still possible that opposition from organized groups could be enough to defeat this selection. Trump might be initially emboldened by this dissent, but then could grow impatient.
Even if unsuccessful, this is a fight worth having. It can put Trump on notice immediately that the political system will push back if he follows through on subverting democratic norms.
This approach seems like a good one to me. More generally, I would like to see all of Trump's cabinet nominations blocked until Bannon is abandoned and some vaguely qualified, non-crazy/evil nominees are put forth.