Confirmation hearings scheduled for Becerra, Haaland

February 17, 2021: Senate committees will hold confirmation hearings next week for Xavier Becerra for secretary of health and human services and Debra Haaland for secretary of the interior.  

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 Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Xavier Becerra‘s nomination for secretary of health and human services on Feb. 23.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for Debra Haaland‘s nomination for secretary of the interior for Feb. 23.


  • The Department of Homeland Security disapproved a contract that former acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli signed with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) union. The contract would have granted ICE employees a say in immigration policy decisions. A DHS spokesperson said, “DHS will make policy decisions in accordance with the law and based on what’s best for national security, public safety, and border security while upholding our nation’s values.”
  • Axios reported that Tracy Renaud, acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, signed a memo encouraging immigration officials to use “more inclusive language in the agency’s outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners and the general public.” Officials have been encouraged to replace the word “alien” with “noncitizen” and “illegal alien” with “undocumented noncitizen” or “undocumented individual.”

Transition in Context

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.

Twenty-seven days after their respective inaugurations, Trump and Biden both had six of these secretaries confirmed.

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