Senate to vote on Vilsack, Thomas-Greenfield nominations

The Senate will vote on the nominations of Tom Vilsack for secretary of agriculture and Linda Thomas-Greenfield for ambassador to the United Nations on 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.

  • Three committee hearings are scheduled Tuesday:
    • The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding the second day of confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland for attorney general.
    • The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is holding a hearing  for Debra Haaland for secretary of the interior.
    • The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is holding a hearing for Xavier Becerra for secretary of health and human services.
  • The Senate invoked cloture on debate over Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s nomination for ambassador to the United Nations. Her confirmation vote is scheduled for Tuesday.
  • The Senate will also vote on the confirmation of Tom Vilsack for secretary of agriculture on Tuesday.


  • Biden issued a proclamation on Monday to memorialize the more than 500,000 Americans who have died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He ordered the flag to be flown at half-staff until February 26.
  • Four key senators have announced their opposition to Neera Tanden’s nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget: Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also said she was unlikely to vote for Tanden. Axios reported that Shalanda Young, a former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, was being considered to replace Tanden in the event her nomination failed or was withdrawn.
  • Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council under the Clinton and Obama administrations, and Ann O’Leary, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) chief of staff, are also being considered as potential replacements for Tanden, according to CNBC.
  • Biden will hold his first bilateral meeting as president with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday. The meeting will take place virtually.
  • Seventy-five Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Biden requesting he withdraw Xavier Becerra from consideration for secretary of health and human services. Eleven senators signed the letter.

Transition in Context: National Security Council

The National Security Council was established by the National Security Act of 1947 to provide the president with advice from and coordination between national security and foreign policy leaders and experts. The president is the chair of council.

In the Biden administration, the following individuals regularly attend National Security Council meetings:

  • Tony Blinken, secretary of state
  • Janet Yellen, secretary of the Treasury
  • Lloyd Austin, secretary of defense
  • Secretary of energy
  • Attorney general
  • Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security
  • Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Ron Klain, White House chief of staff
  • Jake Sullivan, assistant to the president for national security affairs
  • Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Avril Haines, director of national intelligence

The counsel to the president and legal advisor to the National Security Council are also invited to attend each meeting.

Other senior officials, including the COVID-19 response coordinator and special presidential envoy for climate, are invited to meetings when appropriate.

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