Mayorkas confirmation vote for homeland security secretary postponed

February 1, 2021: The Senate postponed a confirmation vote for Alejandro Mayorkas for secretary of homeland security from Monday to Tuesday.

President Joe Biden (D) and his team have been preparing for the transition between presidential administrations since the election, 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 administration.

  • Tom Vilsack, nominee for secretary of agriculture, will appear before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on Tuesday.
  • The Senate postponed a confirmation vote for Alejandro Mayorkas for secretary of homeland security from Monday to Tuesday due to inclement weather.


  • Ten Republican senators, led by Susan Collins (R-Maine), are meeting with Biden on Monday to discuss their counter-proposal to Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. This $600 billion proposal would reduce stimulus checks from $1,400 to $1,000 and lower income eligibility limits to receive the check. It would also eliminate increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. 
  • Biden is delivering his first major foreign policy speech as president on Monday. A senior administration official said the speech would be about “restoring America’s place in the world.”

Transition in Context: Executive Actions

Biden has signed 25 executive orders, 10 presidential memoranda, and four proclamations since taking office.

Executive orders are directives written by the president to officials within the executive branch requiring them to take or stop some action related to policy or management. They are numbered, published in the Federal Register, and cite the authority by which the president is making the order.

Presidential memoranda also include instructions directed at executive officials, but they are neither numbered nor have the same publication requirements. The Office of Management and Budget is also not required to issue a budgetary impact statement on the subject of the memoranda.

In his 2014 book, By Order of the President: The Use and Abuse of Executive Direct Action, Phillip J. Cooper, a professor of public administration at Portland State University, wrote, “As a practical matter, the memorandum is now being used as the equivalent of an executive order, but without meeting the legal requirements for an executive order.”

Proclamations are a third type of executive directive that typically relate to private individuals or ceremonial events, such as holidays and commemorations.

Click here to see a list of executive actions by Biden. Later this week, we will compare Biden’s executive actions to other recent presidents.

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