From the story here:
By unanimous consent, the Republicans gathered in the hearing room agreed to change the committee’s standing rules, which normally require at least one member of each party to be in attendance for committee work to proceed.
“It’s just another way of roughing up the president’s nominees,” said committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “They have been treated fairly. We have not been treated fairly.”
Republicans made the unusual move after Democrats refused to attend a vote on the nominees for two days running, arguing the pair had made misleading statements to lawmakers that needed to be rectified.