Senate Finance Committee splits 14-14 on Becerra nomination

The Senate Finance Committee split along party lines on whether to favorably report Xavier Becerra‘s nomination for secretary of health and human services.

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 Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will vote on the nomination of Debra Haaland for secretary of the interior.
  • The Senate Finance Committee split along party lines, 14-14, on whether to favorably report Xavier Becerra‘s nomination for secretary of health and human services on Wednesday. As a result, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will need to move to discharge the nomination from the committee to get a vote on the Senate floor for Becerra.
  • The Senate Finance Committee advanced Katherine Tai’s nomination for U.S. trade representative by voice vote.
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she would vote to confirm Haaland for interior secretary, signaling the nominee likely has sufficient votes to be confirmed.


  • Biden issued three notices on Wednesday regarding the continuation of national emergencies related to Zimbabwe, Ukraine, and Venezuela.
  • Politico reported that Biden did not have enough votes in the House to pass his immigration legislation. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, suggested it would not be considered until April. “We need to engage in some consultation with key members and stakeholders, but I see no reason why we wouldn’t mark it up when we reconvene in April,” Nadler said.

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 Barack Obama (D) and Joe Biden (D). It does not include Cabinet-rank officials that vary by administration.

Five weeks after their respective inaugurations, Biden had 10 of these secretaries confirmed and Obama had 12. A thirteenth Obama Cabinet member—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

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