The timeline for confirming Biden’s Cabinet nominees may speed up when Democrats take management of the Senate in the approaching days. But Republicans, amid the coronavirus pandemic and the Capitol riots, have been gradual to schedule affirmation hearings.
The first set of hearings is scheduled to take place January 19 — days and in some instances weeks after these hearings have begun in latest transitions — with no dates for affirmation set.
That makes subsequent Tuesday — the day earlier than Biden’s inauguration — one jam-packed with affirmation hearings, with Biden’s nominees to helm the protection, homeland safety, state and treasury departments all scheduled to take place.
The proximity to Biden’s inauguration makes it unlikely Biden administration confirmations will proceed on the identical tempo as his predecessors in latest many years, with all new presidents in the final 30 years seeing at the least some Cabinet nominees confirmed on the times of their inauguration.
The early days of Biden’s administration will see a collision in Congress of the Senate’s trial of outgoing President Donald Trump, the method of confirming Biden’s nominees and talks over Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus vaccine and financial stimulus proposal.
With Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer set to substitute Republican Mitch McConnell as Senate majority chief following Biden’s swearing-in and the swearing-in of two Georgia Democrats who received runoffs there this month — making Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote in a Senate break up 50-50 — the affirmation schedule may speed up.
Biden officers are urgent for the Senate to function on a number of tracks directly, holding affirmation hearings throughout Trump’s impeachment trial. In a briefing with reporters Friday night, Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki pointed to Trump’s first impeachment, noting that the Senate held unrelated hearings throughout that trial.
“Our expectation and hope and perception is that we will stroll and chew gum on the identical time,” Psaki mentioned. “We are urging quick motion on getting these nominees into place … as shut to day one as attainable.”
Biden’s transition group made a push this week to get affirmation hearings for nationwide safety posts onto Senate committees’ schedule.
Biden spokesman Andrew Bates mentioned in a press release Friday that whereas hearings for key posts have since been scheduled, “the American folks deserve assurances that swift ground votes will observe.”
“Progress in the direction of confirmations nonetheless lags considerably behind the place it was at this level over the last two presidential transitions, and it’s important that key nationwide safety and financial leaders are confirmed and in place on day one. And the Senate held hearings all through final yr’s impeachment proceedings.”
Experts mentioned that with Biden dealing with speedy challenges combating the coronavirus pandemic and its financial fallout, in addition to dealing with nationwide safety threats following the January 6 riot on the Capitol, getting his company heads in place shortly is essential.
“There’s by no means been a extra essential time to get confirmed nominees in place as a result of we’re coping with an financial disaster, a well being disaster and a political disaster,” mentioned David Marchick, the director of the non-profit Center for Presidential Transition on the Partnership for Public Service.
Anticipating a delay in affirmation votes, Biden’s transition group is figuring out officers throughout the federal government to function appearing secretaries to oversee what he hopes is a seamless transition of energy, folks accustomed to the matter mentioned.
David Norquist, the present deputy protection secretary, is being requested to run the Pentagon till Biden’s new group is in place, the sources mentioned. He will stay in place till the affirmation of Lloyd Austin, the retired normal whose nomination requires a waiver from the House and Senate as a result of he has not been away from the army for the required seven years.
In the approaching days, Biden aides say, different officers shall be named in key businesses just like the Department of Homeland Security, State Department and Justice Department.
Biden has additionally moved extra shortly than his predecessors in latest many years in filling White House roles and division positions that do not require Senate affirmation — which implies that lots of his picks can start their work on January 20, even when Cabinet nominees are delayed.
“We want to transfer shortly to get the correct folks in these businesses and to make it possible for we’re maintaining this nation secure and we’re prepared for no matter threats may come,” Biden’s incoming chief of workers, Ron Klain, mentioned in a stay interview with The Washington Post on Friday.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.