Tensions in the US Senate are running high just weeks into Donald Trump's presidency, with Republicans accusing Democrats of dragging their heels over cabinet appointments.

Name calling has become commonplace for members of the chamber, with a Republican Orrin Hatch referring to Democrats as "idiots".

"I think they ought to stop posturing and acting like idiots," Hatch said, according to sources cited by The Hill.

"I'm very disappointed in this kind of crap. Some of this is because they just don't like the president."

Many of Trump's nominees have been approved by the respective committees and are awaiting a full Senate vote, while others are awaiting approval from committees and some have already been confirmed.

Trump himself has expressed annoyance over the length of time it has taken for his appointments to be approved, Tweeting on 31 January: "When will the Democrats give us our Attorney General and rest of Cabinet! They should be ashamed of themselves! No wonder D.C. doesn't work!"

And Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell – whom Trump has instructed to "go nuclear if Democrats attempt to block his Supreme Court nomination – also hit out at the opposition describing their actions as "foolish" and blasting them for the "chaos" they were causing.

"They're manufacturing issues on a daily basis to drag this process out and to treat this president's initial Cabinet appointments differently from the way we've treated presidents of the Democratic Party in similar circumstances," McConnell told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday (1 February).

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump announces his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the US Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, DC Carlos Barria/Reuters

The Republican compared the current situation in the Senate with the appointment of then-president Barack Obama's cabinet picks.

McConnell said despite GOP members not being in favour of all of Obama's picks, "we did not prevent him from getting up and functioning."

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Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a rally against President Donald Trump's travel ban outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The Democrat has pressed Trump's picks strongly. Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

"Totally different treatment by the Senate majority at the beginning of Obama from what we're experiencing here," he added.

Other Republicans claimed Democrats were filibustering over cabinet appointments because they disliked Trump.