Politics Joe Biden takes on multiple crises without key confirmed officials at the helm
Joe Biden Welcomes America 'Coming Back Together'—But Ideological Chasms Remain
While the president spoke of people physically coming together, the gaping split in public opinion on key issues of the day remains.Events across the U.S. over the holiday weekend have marked a fledgling return to normalcy, as restrictions put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic continue to lift.
is facing a border crisis without a confirmed border commissioner, spending fights without an official budget director and a pandemic without a confirmed Food and Drug Administration commissioner.
Nearly halfway through his first year in office, Biden has sent more nominations to the Senate and has had more people confirmed than the Trump administration did at the same point, though Biden still lags behind other White House predecessors.
Listen up: Biden speaks volumes in a whisper to make a point
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden was at a public transit station in Wisconsin, talking about repairing roads and bridges, when he shifted gears and began defending his plan to send money to parents for each minor child, payments some critics call a “giveaway.” Biden folded his arms, rested on the lectern, leaned into the mic and lowered his voice. “Hey, guys, I think it's time to give ordinary people a tax break," he said, almost whisperingBiden folded his arms, rested on the lectern, leaned into the mic and lowered his voice.
Just a few months ago, Bidenof becoming the first president in more than 30 years to have all of his original Cabinet secretary nominees confirmed to their posts. This encompasses the 15 major agency heads to receive Senate confirmation and whose Cabinet positions are included in the presidential line of succession.
But since then, a combination of troubled picks and Senate intransigence has left Biden facing a handful of crises without key, confirmed leadership. The 50-50 Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote, has also complicated efforts to fill administration slots.
As the Senate returns from its July 4th break, lawmakers face a slew of pending nominations for various posts in the Biden administration. More than 200 nominations were awaiting Senate confirmation at the start of this month, according to new data from the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service.
‘Normal is not good enough': After Trump, pressure’s on Biden to create new ethics rules
Government watchdog groups are urging Biden to hire an ethics director at the White House the way George W. Bush and Barack Obama did.Six months into office, they’re pushing the president to follow through on his campaign promise to press for an aggressive 25-point plan for ethics reform, fearful that the window to do so may be closing — and with it an opportunity to prevent the lapses of the Trump years from happening again.
"The Senate has a huge role to play here. The pace of Senate confirmations has slowed substantially over the last 30 to 40 years or so," said Loren DeJonge Schulman, vice president for research and evaluation at the Partnership.
This trend is now yielding a "backlog" of nominees "waiting for their opportunity to have an up-or-down vote," said Schulman.
The delays could pose public health and national security risks and make it harder for the President to accomplish his agenda.
Across the Biden administration, departments are also seeing several of their top leadership positions without a formal Biden nominee, although in some cases they're filled by officials serving in acting capacities.
In March, the White House pulled the nomination of Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budgetand tweets insulting lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Currently, Deputy Director Shalanda Young is serving as acting head of OMB at a time when the agency is playing an important role in the Biden administration's from the President's first budget.
Biden Voting Rights Demagoguery Made More Sinister by Domestic Terror Plan | Opinion
If one can draw a straight line from supporting voting integrity to racism and violent extremism/terrorism, shouldn't the American people be concerned? It is also worth noting that FBI Director Christopher Wray has declared the Capitol Riot to be an act of domestic terrorism. Accordingly, the Department of Justice National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section is prosecuting some of the relevant cases stemming from January 6.
The President has yet to name someone to permanently lead an agency at the forefront of the coronavirus fight: the FDA.
The agency is currently being run by Dr. Janet Woodcock. A career official since 1986, Woodcock has served as acting head since January of this year, but hasfrom several Senate Democrats over the FDA's role in the opioid crisis and is no longer considered the front-runner for the nomination, multiple sources tell CNN. It's unclear who else the White House is considering for the job.
Now facing a confluence of major challenges, the Biden administration is under pressure to name more nominees -- and get their pending ones confirmed as swiftly as possible.
"We are ahead of prior administrations in terms of nominations sent to the Senate for confirmation, and we have outstanding acting leaders at OMB and FDA, and we look forward to nominating qualified people to these positions," White House spokesperson Chris Meagher said in a statement. "We also are hopeful that Senate Republicans will cease using time-consuming floor mechanics to hold up our more than 200 extremely qualified, experienced nominees -- many of which will be working on important matters of national security and will receive broad bipartisan support -- to begin the important work ahead of them."
Biden and White House sharpen strategy to confront epic challenges
Joe Biden's presidency is only six months old, but the mood inside the White House can often feel like a race against time. © Susan Walsh/AP President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. "The clock is running. We all know that," a senior adviser to Biden said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The President certainly knows that.
Key agencies impacted by Senate backlog
The State Department faces the largest backlog, with 40 nominees awaiting Senate confirmation at the start of July, according to the Partnership's data. This includes several ambassadorship posts, as well as key roles dealing with international security, arms control and human rights, as tracked by
When it comes to national security, Schulman says the White House is "incredibly inhibited by the lack of appointees that they have confirmed, whether it be at the Department of State, the Department of Defense, or elsewhere."
to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in April, seeking the first Senate-confirmed director of the agency since 2015 and just the second in its history. But Chipman -- a career official at ATF for 25 years and more recently a top adviser with Giffords, a gun-control group run by former Arizona congresswoman and gun-violence survivor Gabby Giffords -- has been criticized by the National Rifle Association, turning off some moderate Republicans and causing some squeamishness among centrist Democrats.
As the White House rolled out a series of immigration measures over recent months, the nominated leaders of the agencies charged with overseeing parts of the immigration system are also still awaiting confirmation.
3 takeaways from President Joe Biden's CNN town hall
President Joe Biden arrived in Ohio on Wednesday mindful the days for actual bipartisan governing in Washington are quickly waning. © Maddie McGarvey for CNN President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall on Wednesday in Cincinnati, Ohio. Throughout his CNN town hall, he voiced again and again his conviction that Republicans will come along, even though some are poisoned by conspiracies and others, he said, are "lying" on his record. He was confronted with open skepticism by some of his questioners, particularly on the matter of voting rights.
The three agencies under the Department of Homeland Security -- US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection -- are all operating under acting leadership, until those selected to lead are confirmed by the Senate. It's become familiar territory for each agency after rotating leadership under former President Donald Trump. ICE, which is currently led by career official Tae Johnson, never had a Senate-confirmed director during the four years of the Trump administration.
This Thursday, though, Biden's pick for ICE director, Ed Gonzalez, will testify before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in a step toward possible confirmation. Gonzalez, who was elected sheriff of Harris County, Texas, in 2016, has a decades-long career in law enforcement,.
Ur Jaddou, who was selected to serve as USCIS director, already had her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was voted on favorably. She's now on the Senate executive calendar. Jaddou was formerly chief counsel at the agency under President Barack Obama and led the Biden-Harris DHS transition review team.
But still missing on the calendar is Biden's nominee to head CBP, Tucson, Arizona, police chief Chris Magnus. The agency, which is currently led by acting Commissioner Troy Miller, was confronted with an increase of migrants at the US-Mexico border this year that led to overcrowded facilities and unaccompanied children staying in custody for prolonged periods of time.
Nominations by the numbers
By all accounts, compared to the Trump administration, Biden is seeing both larger numbers of nominations and confirmations in the Senate.
Data from the Partnership for Public Service, which is tracking civilian nominations that require Senate confirmation, shows Biden outpaced the previous administration with 304 nominations and 91 confirmations at the start of July.
Then-President Trump, meanwhile, had 213 nominations and roughly half the confirmations -- at 49 -- during the same point in his administration.
Although he's outpacing Trump on confirmations, Biden is still behind Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who both saw larger numbers of individuals confirmed -- 179 and 130 respectively -- at that point in their presidential tenures, according to the Partnership's data.
Biden's number of nominations is also slightly lower than that of Obama (325) and Bush (308).
"It's the pace of confirmations that I think is pretty notable, given how far behind he is" from Obama and Bush, Schulman notes.
And while the Biden administration "can't control how quickly the Senate moves," she contends, they can still play a role in emphasizing this issue in conversations with Senate leadership.
Why the artistic career of Hunter Biden embarrassed the White House .
© BRENDAN Smialowski / AFP Hunter Biden in Washington on July 23, 2021. White House said on Friday take ethical precautions around the exhibition and sale of tables youngest son Joe Biden. The Biden administration, which wants irreproachable ethical, does not want the artistic career of Hunter Biden opens up potential conflicts of interest.