Politics Biden nominees are cruising to confirmation with GOP votes
After 2 senators threatened to withhold votes in support of nominees, the Biden administration pledges increased Asian Americans representation
Sens. Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth said they would hold off on supporting Biden administration nominees unless the president increased AAPI representation. The pair threatened to withhold votes in support of Cabinet nominees unless Biden made changes. The White House said it would add a senior-level AAPI liaison. See more stories on Insider's business page. The Biden administration says it will appoint an Asian American Pacific Islander liaison after Sens.
ANALYSIS — With the confirmation of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on March 22 as Labor secretary, Joe Biden’s Cabinet is complete. And with all 15 of his department heads in place, it’s fair to say that Biden had the easiest time getting his team of any president in recent history.
Majority Leader, who is considering a rules change to weaken the Senate’s filibuster because he expects Republicans will soon block legislation to set national standards for federal elections, painted a different picture of bipartisanship on the day Walsh was confirmed.
3 losers and 2 winners from Biden’s first press conference
Winner: A return to normalcy. Loser: Americans still worried about the Covid-19 pandemic.A White House press corps that has been waiting impatiently for its turn to question the president directly spent about an hour peppering Biden with questions about the surge of unaccompanied minors at the US-Mexico border, how to address the threat posed by China, his thoughts on the Senate filibuster, and whether he’d run for president in 2024. (It’s his “expectation” that he will.
“Every single member of President Biden’s Cabinet has received a bipartisan vote in favor of confirmation,” he said. “It’s a tribute to President Biden and his team that they have chosen such a fine Cabinet, and a tribute to the senators here that we have moved in such a quick fashion despite so many other responsibilities.”
As minority leader in 2017, Schumer voted against 11 of President Donald Trump’s department secretaries and raised procedural roadblocks that pushed the final Cabinet confirmations that year into late April. But he argues that the difference now is the care with which Biden has made his picks, choosing people qualified for the jobs.
Still, the relative support of Republican senators for Biden’s Cabinet choices also underscores the GOP’s desire to save their limited political capital for the bigger policy fights to come, and Biden’s wisdom in choosing people who, with the exception of Xavier Becerra at the Health and Human Services Department, do not have long histories in the partisan trenches.
Joe Biden's news conference shows how he's operating on his own timeline
Joe Biden offered his most expansive explanation yet of his own presidency on Thursday, presenting himself, at least for now, as a problem solver operating above the bitter divides of Washington politics. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 25: U.S. President Joe Biden answers questions during the first news conference of his presidency in the East Room of the White House on March 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. On the 64th day of his administration, Biden, 78, faced questions about the coronavirus pandemic, immigration, gun control and other subjects.
The 2013 decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to reduce the 60-vote requirement for executive branch appointments to a simple majority played a big role in the breezy confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet. Three of Biden’s 15 nominees did not receive at least 60 votes: Becerra,at Interior and Alejandro Mayorkas at Homeland Security.
With only a majority required, and a president and Senate held by the same party, it only takes party unity to confirm nominees now and not one Democrat voted against any of Biden’s department secretaries.
But the confirmation wars have also grown less heated. The Republican minority has not mounted the kind of opposition to Biden’s picks that Democrats did in 2017 when Trump was the one doing the selecting.
Walsh’s confirmation, on a 68-29 vote, came more than a month earlier in the year than when the last Trump nominee, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, was confirmed. At this point in 2017, Trump was still waiting to get Acosta in place, as well as his Agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue.
What Biden’s first list of judicial nominees tells us about his approach to the courts
Biden named a diverse group of 11 lawyers to the federal bench on Tuesday, including several former public defenders.During his presidency, Donald Trump reshaped the judiciary, appointing a third of the Supreme Court and about as many federal appellate judges in four years as President Barack Obama appointed in eight. Biden’s first slate of nominees hardly even begins to turn back that tide, but it does offer a window into how he is likely to approach the courts during his presidency. The 11 nominees are racially diverse and predominantly female, and quite a few are lawyers with backgrounds as public defenders.
Trump also lost his first choice to run Labor, Andrew Puzder, who withdrew after Republican senators signaled they would not support him because Puzder had employed an unauthorized immigrant as a housekeeper and his ex-wife had once accused him of physical abuse (though she later recanted).
In addition, two Republican senators,of Maine and of Alaska, opposed Trump’s pick for Education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who won confirmation on a 51-50 vote.
All totaled, the 50 Republican senators cast 374 votes against Biden’s 15 nominees, an average of 7.5 each. In 2017, 48 senators in the Democratic Caucus cast 482 “no” votes on Trump’s picks, an average of 10.
Both parties now have resistance movements. Seven in the Democratic Caucus in 2017 opposed at least 12 of Trump’s nominees:of Connecticut, of New Jersey, of California, of New York, of Oregon, of Vermont and of Massachusetts.
In opposing Biden’s picks, six Republicans are in that group:of Arkansas, of Texas, of Missouri (the only senator in either 2021 or 2017 to oppose all 15), of Kentucky, of Florida and of Alabama.
Biden to propose $2 trillion infrastructure, jobs plan funded by corporate tax hike
The White House is comparing President Joe Biden's infrastructure proposal to the construction of interstate highways and the Space Race.The White House is billing the proposal, dubbed the American Jobs Plan, as a domestic investment not seen in the U.S. since the construction of the interstate highways in the 1950s and the Space Race a decade later.
Still, a group of Republicans has mostly supported Biden’s picks. Four have voted “no” three times or fewer:of West Virginia, Collins (who voted for all 15), Murkowski and of Utah.
By contrast, in 2017, only one Democrat,of West Virginia, opposed only three Trump picks.
Biden also had an easier time in getting his Cabinet in place than the three presidents who preceded Trump: Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. That’s despite the fact that Obama, Bush and Clinton enjoyed a less partisan confirmation process. The 15 people who became Clinton’s Cabinet all got there by voice vote or unanimous consent without the need for a roll call vote.
Bush saw 13 of his nominees confirmed that way, or by unanimous vote, and even Obama had nine Cabinet nominees seated by voice vote.
Still, the 60-vote threshold in place until 2013 made the Senate’s vetting process more fraught. Obama saw three of his choices withdraw in 2009 — his first two picks for Commerce secretary, former Rep. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., as well as his first Health and Human Services nominee, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
Richardson was embroiled in an investigation into his handling of a government contract when he was governor of New Mexico. Gregg decided he had too many policy disagreements with Obama, while Daschle faced concerns about his taxes and his work for a lobbying firm.
Grassley and Johnson seek access to FISA docs on Hunter Biden's Chinese business associates
Two top Republicans are asking the Justice Department and intelligence community to hand over to Congress any and all intelligence records tied to Chinese government-connected foreign nationals who had business dealings with Hunter Biden. © Provided by Washington Examiner Concerns about President Joe Biden’s son gained broader attention late last year after multiple outlets reported that he is being federally investigated in connection with his taxes and potentially related to his overseas business with China and other countries. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen.
George W. Bush’s first Labor Department nominee, Linda Chavez, withdrew after acknowledging she’d paid an unauthorized immigrant to clean her house. Bill Clinton lost his first choice for attorney general, Zoë Baird, because she’d hired an unauthorized immigrant to watch her child.
This year, the blanket GOP opposition to Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law has obscured the fact that Republicans have mainly backed Biden’s nominees.
In addition to the 15 Cabinet secretaries, the Senate has confirmed 13 other high-level Biden administration officials. Three won approval by voice vote, while a majority of Republicans backed six of the other 10 in roll calls. And Biden has only lost one of his nominees, his pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, who withdrew after Manchin said he would not support her because of her critical tweets about senators of both parties.
The high level of GOP support for Biden on Senate votes will decline as Schumer brings more bills to the floor that most or all Republicans oppose. But as the filibuster fight looms, Senate Minority Leaderis drawing the contrast between how Republicans have treated Biden}s picks and how Democrats treated Trump’s.
“The nation needs presidents to be able to stand up a team so long as their nominees are qualified and mainstream,” he said on March 10, in announcing his support forfor Housing and Urban Development secretary and Merrick B. Garland for attorney general, noting that he’d backed them even though he’d “spent four years watching many of our Democratic colleagues do everything possible to object, obstruct and delay President Trump’s nominees.”
Of the 15 Biden department heads, McConnell opposed only four. In floor speeches on Jan. 26 and March 16, he noted the procedural hurdles Republicans have foregone in permitting Biden’s Cabinet quick confirmation and warned Democrats contemplating changes to the filibuster that the path for future nominees won’t be so easy if they make any.
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2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet .
A slate of potential 2024 White House hopefuls are leading the opposition among Republican senators to President Biden's Cabinet nominees.Of the 21 Cabinet nominations confirmed by the Senate since Jan. 20, GOP Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) has voted the most against the president's picks, according to data compiled by The Hill, opposing 19 and supporting just two: Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. No senator voted against Tai and only four voted against Rouse.After Hawley, GOP Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) have opposed 18 of Biden's Cabinet nominees, while Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.