Senate Finance Committee sends nomination questionnaires to Yellen, Becerra

December 17, 2020: The Senate Finance Committee sent questionnaires to Janet Yellen (treasury) and Xavier Becerra (health and human services), beginning their confirmation processes.

Prior to taking office on January 20, 2021, President-elect Joe Biden (D) and his team must prepare for the transition between presidential administrations, including selecting senior White House staff and appointees to top government positions.

In 2016, there were 1,714 government positions subject to presidential appointment: 1,242 positions required Senate confirmation and 472 did not. The new administration is also responsible for filling thousands of other positions across the federal government, including in operations and policy. Every weekday, Ballotpedia is tracking potential Cabinet nominees, appointments, and news related to the Biden presidential transition.


  • The Hill reported Biden will select Gina McCarthy to serve in a new position as White House Climate Policy Coordinator. McCarthy was Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama (D) from 2013 to 2017. This new position would function as a domestic counterpart to John Kerry, the presidential envoy for climate. It will not require Senate confirmation.
  • The New York Times reported Biden will select Brenda Mallory to head the Council on Environmental Quality. Mallory worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for 15 years before joining the Conservation Litigation Project and the Southern Environmental Law Center.
  • The Senate Finance Committee sent questionnaires to Janet Yellen (nominee for treasury secretary) and Xavier Becerra (nominee for health and human services secretary) on Dec. 15. The questionnaires are the beginning of their nomination processes.
  • A member of Biden’s transition press corps tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 16. Biden’s office confirmed the individual traveled with Biden on Dec. 15 but was not in close contact with Biden as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.
  • CNN reported Biden will receive a COVID-19 vaccine publicly the week of Dec. 21. On Dec. 16, Biden told reporters, “I don’t want to get ahead of the line, but I want to make sure we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take. When I do it, I’ll do it publicly, so you can all witness my getting it done.”

Transition in Context: Current SCOTUS Composition

Filling vacancies on the Supreme Court of the United States is one duty of the President of the United States. Who currently serves on the court, who were they nominated by, and how old are they? Find out below.

  • Chief Justice John Roberts, 65, nominated by George W. Bush (R) 
  • Justice Clarence Thomas, 72, nominated by George H.W. Bush (R) 
  • Justice Stephen Breyer, 82, nominated by Bill Clinton (D)
  • Justice Samuel Alito, 70, nominated by George W. Bush (R)
  • Justice Sonia Sotomayor, 66, nominated by Barack Obama (D)
  • Justice Elena Kagan, 60, nominated by Barack Obama (D)
  • Justice Neil Gorsuch, 53, nominated by Donald Trump (R)
  • Justice Brett Kavanaugh, 55, nominated by Donald Trump (R)
  • Justice Amy Coney Barrett, 48, nominated by Donald Trump (R) 

President Donald Trump (R) appointed three justices to the Supreme Court. The four preceding presidents (Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush) appointed two justices each.

Trump’s three and H.W. Bush’s two appointments came during one-term presidencies. Obama, W. Bush, and Clinton made their two appointments to the court over two presidential terms.

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