Sen. Jim Risch on Trump Transition: 'I Never Thought I'd Live to See This' 

click to enlarge Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) - U.S. SENATE
  • U.S. Senate
  • Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho)

As workers in Washington, D.C. construct stages and haul in equipment for the Friday, Jan. 20 presidential inauguration an equally difficult job of transferring power was playing out in the surrounding Congressional office buildings.

It's a dramatic flourish that has even Republican Idaho Sen. Jim Risch surprised.

“I've run 33 times for public office—I've been in public office since my first election in 1970—and I never thought I'd live to see this,” Risch said on Wednesday, two days before the inauguration. “If someone would have written a novel like this 20 years ago, no one would have bought it because they'd say it was too far-fetched. I think the American people were so fed up they just said, 'Let's throw the baby out with the bathwater and start over."

Nothing was more evident of the disrupted status quo Wednesday than the confirmation hearing of education secretary appointee Betsy DeVos. As DeVos was being grilled by a senate panel just down the hall from Risch's office in the Russell Senate Office Building, members of the Journey For Justice Alliance railed against what they said was DeVos' potential to divert public education funds toward voucher programs or irregular school models.

“[DeVos and her allies want to] block access to democracy, to block the voices of the men and women who pay taxes, who trusted the American education system to help our children and had their trust betrayed by a system that dismantles … education and replaces it with chaos,” said
Executive Director of the Journey For Justice Alliance Jitu Brown.

DeVos isn't the only cabinet selection to raise eyebrows. Several other Trump picks are successful private sector professionals with no government experience, including secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, secretary of treasury nominee Steven Mnuchin, secretary of housing and urban development nominee Ben Carson, secretary of labor nominee Andrew Puzder and secretary of commerce nominee Wilbur Ross.

“It's interesting, because we're going through something other governments don't go through—we're changing governments,” Risch said.  "Yes, this is a new government.”

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