Senate confirmation hearings this week for President-elect Donald Trump's nominees for top jobs — from secretary of state to attorney general — should provide a test of his ability to work with fellow Republicans in Congress to enact his agenda.
Trump's challenge is to ensure the 100-member Senate's 52 Republicans stick together to confirm his Cabinet choices to provide a smooth transition to power when the real estate magnate takes over from Democratic President Barack Obama on Jan. 20.
A total of seven confirmation hearings are expected this week, starting on Tuesday with hearings for U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions on his bid to become attorney general and a session for retired Gen. John Kelly, Trump's pick for secretary of homeland security.
Both present opposition Democrats the opportunity to raise questions about Trump's immigration proposals, such as his vow to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and a pledge to temporarily suspend immigration from regions deemed to be exporting terrorism.
The hearings are likely to show how well Trump — a newcomer to elected office — and his team are at holding Republicans in line as he prepares an expansive legislative agenda that includes reworking Obama's signature healthcare law and tax reform.
"I think you're going to see Senate Republicans by and large rally around Trump's nominees and that will set the tone hopefully for a cooperative and productive relationship going forward," said Republican strategist Ryan Williams.