Biden is in danger of not having a single Cabinet official confirmed on Inauguration Day. Traditionally the Senate – which is sworn into office a few weeks ahead of a president – starts the confirmation process so there is at least part of a national security team in place when the president takes office.
‘We’ve done our job. We’ve begun the job of naming these people and it’s my expectation and hope that the Senate will now move to confirm these nominees promptly and fairly. As is especially the case for the nominees of secretary of state, defense, treasury, and homeland security,’ he said. ‘They should be confirmed as close to January 20th as possible.’
President elect Joe Biden called on the Senate to start the process to confirm his top Cabinet nominees immediately
Mitch McConnell remains in the Senate until January 20th
Biden also said he considered naming Senator Bernie Sanders as his labor secretary but the two of them agreed that control of the Senate shouldn’t rest on a special election in Vermont.
‘I’m confident he could have done a fantastic job,’ Biden said of Sanders, adding ‘Bernie and I agreed that we can’t put the Senate at risk with a special election in Vermont.’
The special elections in Georgia have throw off the makeup the Senate. The winner of the contests decided which party controlled the upper chamber.
Democrats took both seats, making a Senate a 50-50 majority. That means which ever party holds the White House is the majority since the vice president is the tie breaking vote.
The new Senate was sworn in on January 3 and, with Mike Pence the vice president, that means Republicans are in charge. When Biden and his Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn in on January 20th, the Senate will switch to Democratic control.
They will take office as the country is dealing with the COVID pandemic, where more than 4,000 people have died in a day. Additionally the jobs report out Friday showed the economy is on the decline. U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department said.
But Biden’s plea could be for not. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who currently controls the calendar, has sent the Senate home until January 19.
Senate Committee chairs, who are Republicans, however, have only scheduled on confirmation hearing for that of retired General Lloyd Austin, Biden’s pick to head the Pentagon who will need a congressional waiver to be confirmed.
Hearings could take place in the coming weeks and Senate could hold votes held when the chamber returns. Four years ago, that is what happened and the Senate confirmed Jim Mattis and John F. Kelly as secretaries of defense and homeland security on the same day President Donald Trump took the oath of office.
But, additionally, the work of the Senate is hampered until Georgia certifies that Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won their elections and the two are formally seated in Washington.
Until then, committees can’t report out their work, a technical process that is needed before the Senate can hold a full floor vote on Biden’s picks.
The Biden team is working on contingency plans to install acting secretaries in most, if not all, Cabinet posts,
Biden said he considered naming Bernie Sanders as his Labor Secretary but needs him in the Senate
The president-elect said with Friday’s announcement his Cabinet picks are complete. He finished naming his economic and jobs team, which included Secretary of Commerce nominee Governor Gina Raimondo; Secretary of Labor nominee Boston Mayor Marty Walsh; Small Business Administrator nominee Isabel Guzman; and Deputy Secretary of Commerce nominee Don Graves
He called his entire team ‘historic.’
‘This will be the first cabinet ever that is evenly composed as many women as men in the Cabinet. This will be the first Cabinet ever with a majority of people of color occupying this Cabinet. And it has more than one dozen history making appointments including the first woman secretary of treasury, first African-American defense secretary, the first openly gay cabinet member and the first native American secretary.’