JBiden has had a fairly smooth ministerial appointment process so far, but there is grumbling that he could become more volatile, and speculation the Democratic president-elect might take a leaf out of Donald Trump’s playbook to try to get the team he wanted.
Publicly, Democrats are hoping that the nominations for all Biden cabinet candidates will go smoothly. But what looms on the horizon about Biden’s team planning is the possibility that Senate Republicans decide to reject a candidate, preventing confirmation of anyone Biden proposes.
Their ability to do so will depend on who wins the two replay races in the Georgia Senate. If the Democrats win, they are wresting control of the vital upper room away from the Republicans. But if the Republicans win, it increases the likelihood that they will be able to block any Biden candidate from a particular cabinet office.
In this scenario, one option for Democrats would be to follow Donald Trump’s model and install controversial government officials under the title of “representation,” in which they are not confirmed but fulfill that role regardless.
In the final term of his administration, Trump has made the habit of appointing acting heads of federal agencies, thus circumventing the usual fixation process, even with Republicans controlling the Senate.
“Frankly, this is not an unhelpful precedent,” a Democratic aide in the Senate said of the idea of Biden appointing acting ministers in the face of the Republican blockade.
If the Democrats take control of the Senate, it is almost certain that the Senate majority will move steadily to confirm the Biden candidates as evidence of the incoming president’s promise to “cool down” US policy. If the Republicans are in control of the room, obtaining assurances is a tempting way to generate influence with a new president who has promised to work with the opposition party.
It is unclear which of the Biden candidates will Republicans object to the most.
So far, it has been the most opposition Republicans who any of Biden’s nominees appeared to have outgrown Nira Tandin, head of the Progressive Center for American Progress. Biden Tandin was nominated to run the Office of Management and Budget. Drew Brandywe, the communications director for Texas Senator John Cornyn, a senior Republican in the Senate, tweeted that Tandin had “no chance” to confirm.
Nira Tandin, who has an endless stream of derogatory comments about Republican senators whose votes will need to be cast, has no chance to confirm. https://t.co/f6Ewi6OMQR
– Drew Brandewie November 30, 2020
Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters that he supports the Tanden hearing but that she is “problematic as a candidate, and I hope the Biden administration will reconsider her candidacy.”
If the Republicans retained control of the Senate, Portman would chair one of the committees dealing with the Tandin nomination.
The Republicans are expected to fight hard at least a few of the Biden candidates, not just Tandin. The Conservatives are already beginning to indicate a critical interest in the dealings of the consulting firm that Secretary of State Tony Blinken helped establish, WestExec Advisers.
Biden transition officials, Democrats in Congress, and veterans in the process are hesitant to consider a worst-case scenario such as imposing the Senate on multiple candidates. The Biden transition team has set a goal of meeting with every member of Congress, according to a Biden transition official. The official said the team is also in the process of arranging meetings between the candidates and senators, a sign that the incoming administration still hopes it can engineer some bipartisan support.
Biden transition team spokesman Sean Savitt said: “For the past eight days alone, President-elect Biden has presented a group of experienced and committed candidates who will rebuild our relationships in the world and rebuild our economy.” The current situation.
He added, “The process of dealing with Democrat and Republican members and offices is already underway, and will only begin in the coming weeks. While we fully anticipated the disagreement with some senators, we have no doubt that the American people fully expect qualified candidates to be considered and confirmed.”
Phil Chilliero, the former director of legislative affairs at the White House during the Obama administration, said he expected the confirmation period for Biden’s candidates to be the same as before.
“I don’t think it’s going to be perverted,” Schellero said. Partly because we just had an abnormal presidency where norms were broken over and over again, and I think there are Republican senators who have had a real problem of whether or not they can articulate it. I expect that to happen again. “
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Chamber’s highest-ranking Republican official, for example, broke a long precedent for Supreme Court nominees when he declined to allow a hearing on Barack Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland. Most recently, he’s back to his own logic to abstain from holding hearings in Garland when Republicans quickly move Amy Connie Barrett during the Senate hearings.
In other words, there is a precedent for McConnell and the current group of Republican leaders to resist old Senate traditions. It is also normal that few cabinet candidates cannot pass the confirmation process.
Schellero noted that Biden has “a history of good relations with the Senate even though the Senate has changed a lot. There are still quite a few members who have good relations with them and there is goodwill and confidence.”
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