Biden will receive COVID-19 vaccine, Harris campaigns in Georgia

December 21, 2020: Joe and Jill Biden will receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

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.

News

  • Biden and his wife, Jill, will publicly receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Delaware on Monday. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is expected to also receive the vaccine next week.  
  • Harris is campaigning in Columbus, Georgia, on Monday with Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. Following the general election in November, Republicans have 50 Senate seats to Democrats’ 48. To learn more about the two Georgia runoff elections and the fight for Senate control, sign up for the Runoff Report.
  • Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said on Sunday that he expected a Republican-controlled Senate to challenge Biden’s nominees. “[I]t’s not going to be a garden party. If the Republicans are in the majority, these nominees are going to have to run the gauntlet,” he said.
  • Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller temporarily halted Pentagon meetings with the Biden Transition, saying in a statement, “At no time has the Department cancelled or declined any interview. … After the mutually-agreed upon holiday, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and rescheduled meetings from today.”
  • The Biden Transition said on Friday that they did not agree to such a holiday break. “In fact, we think it’s important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period, as there’s no time to spare,” said spokesman Yohannes Abraham.

Transition in Context: How does the confirmation process work?

The confirmation process for presidential nominees begins with a formal nomination from the White House to the Senate. The nomination is filtered to the appropriate Senate committee, based on its jurisdiction. The committee will then investigate and hold hearings on the nominee before producing a report—favorable, unfavorable, or without recommendation—to the Senate.

Following a vote to close debate on the nominee, a simple majority vote is held in the Senate to confirm or reject the nominee. In the past 100 years, only three nominees have been formally rejected by the Senate: Charles Warren for attorney general in 1925, Lewis Strauss for commerce secretary in 1959, and John Tower for secretary of defense in 1989.

Other candidates, including nominees from the Obama and Trump administrations, have withdrawn when it became apparent there would be insufficient votes in the Senate.

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About the author

Emily Aubert

Emily Aubert is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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