February 3, 2021: Pete Buttigieg and Alejandro Mayorkas were confirmed on Tuesday as secretary of transportation and secretary of homeland security, respectively.
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.
- The Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg for secretary of transportation on Tuesday by a vote of 86-13. Thirteen Republicans voted against his nomination. Buttigieg is the only Biden nominee, out of six so far, that Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has supported. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has opposed all six confirmations so far. Buttigieg is the first openly gay person to be confirmed as a Cabinet secretary.
- The Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas for secretary of homeland security on Tuesday by a vote of 56-43. Six Republicans supported his confirmation: Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).
- Six committee hearings are scheduled for Tuesday:
- The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will consider the nomination of Gina Raimondo for secretary of commerce.
- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the nomination of Linda Thomas-Greenfield for ambassador to the U.N.
- The Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a confirmation hearing for Miguel Cardona for secretary of education.
- The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will consider the nomination of Jennifer Granholm for secretary of energy.
- The Senate Committee on Small Business will hold a confirmation hearing for Isabel Guzman for administrator of the Small Business Administration.
- The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a confirmation hearing for Michael Regan.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, rejected a request from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to hold a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland for U.S. attorney general on February 8. Graham said, “Proceeding with the confirmation of an attorney general and the impeachment of a former president at the same time would give neither the attention required.” He added that a one-day hearing was insufficient. Durbin said the committee had received Garland’s paperwork nearly two weeks before, giving them time to have reviewed the materials. Durbin also said that he was “prepared to take other steps to expedite the Senate’s consideration of Judge Garland’s nomination should his hearing not go forward on February 8.”
- Biden is considering appointing former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) to an ambassadorship to China or Japan, NBC News reported.
- The Biden Administration intends to focus on filling vacancies in the judicial system and establishing a pipeline for potential nominees. “The new administration will take a page from the Trump White House and speed up the process by forgoing the American Bar Association review of candidates in advance of formal nominations,” The Washington Post reported.
Transition in Context: Pace of Confirmations
The following chart compares the pace of Senate confirmations for the main Cabinet members—the 15 agency heads in the presidential line of succession—following the inaugurations of Presidents Donald Trump (R) and Joe Biden (D). It does not include Cabinet-rank officials that vary by administration.
Thirteen days after their respective inaugurations, Trump had four of these Cabinet secretaries confirmed and Biden had five.
What We’re Reading
- Fortune: One of Biden’s first acts as President may have broken the law
- The Nation: Personnel as Policy in the Biden Administration
- Politico: Biden takes a fine-if-we-get-it approach to bipartisanship