January 15, 2021: The Senate Intelligence Committee postponed the confirmation hearing for Avril Haines originally scheduled Friday.
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 2020, there were 1,472 government positions subject to presidential appointment: 1,118 positions required Senate confirmation and 354 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.
Appointments and Nominations
Biden announced additional appointees to deputy and administrative roles on Friday:
- Janet McCabe for deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
- Shalanda Young for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget
- Jason Miller for deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget
- David Cohen for deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency
- Deanne Criswell, FEMA administrator
Biden has also selected David Kessler to lead the federal vaccine distribution program. Kessler was the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration during the Bush I and Clinton administrations.
- The Senate Intelligence Committee postponed its confirmation hearing for Avril Haines, originally scheduled for Friday, to next week.
- Interior Secretary nominee Debra Haaland released her financial disclosures, which showed that she received no income beyond her congressional salary and had between $15,000 and $50,000 in student loan debt from her 2006 law degree.
- Following Twitter’s announcement that current @POTUS followers will be reset to zero when Biden takes office, the Biden Transition has created a new account in the interim—@PresElectBiden—to build up a following before he takes office. This account will become @POTUS when he is sworn in.
- Biden will stay in the Blair House, the official residence for presidential guests, the day before his inauguration.
Transition in Context: In Their Words…
Here’s how Democratic and Republican leaders, advisers, and stakeholders have reacted to granting or opposing a waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as secretary of defense.
- “I believe in the importance of civilian control of the military. So does the secretary-designee Austin. He’ll be bolstered by a strong and empowered civilian sector and senior [officials] working [Defense Department] policies and to ensure that our defense policies are accountable to the American people.” – President-elect Joe Biden (D)
- Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee said that granting a waiver could create a standard where “future presidents will default to nominating retired general officers to the position of secretary of defense, in lieu of qualified civilians.”
- “It is reasonable to ask whether the appointment of two generals to political positions in four years will increase politicization of the senior military officer corps.” – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee
- “The reason for the principle of civilian control is not only to protect our democracy against military interference, it is to protect the military against excessive interference—political partisan interference—that may jeopardize the professionalism and effectiveness of our military.” – Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
- “I supported a one-time waiver in the case of Secretary James Mattis with the belief that the circumstances at the time warranted a rare exception, not the establishment of a new precedent, which erodes the basic principle of civilian control of the military. I would need to take a hard look at the Biden administration’s justification for such a waiver before reaching a conclusion on whether or not one is warranted in this case.” – Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
- “Voting against a waiver for him, from those who voted yes on a waiver for Mattis, would have a disparate racial impact. Democrats oppose policies with disparate impact because we recognize that race matters. How can anyone justify voting for a different outcome for a highly qualified Black man compared to how Mattis was treated, no matter what facially neutral justification there may be?” – Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)
What We’re Reading
- DefenseNews: Here’s why Biden’s first defense secretary may be a Trump appointee
- Politico: Trump impeachment trial crashes Biden’s first 100 days
- The Washington Post: Biden swells the ranks of his White House climate team