Congress passes American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

May 11, 2021: Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. President Joe Biden will sign the bill into law on Friday.

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 Marcia Fudge as secretary of housing and urban development by a vote of 66-34. All 34 votes against her nomination came from Republicans. She was sworn in on Wednesday by Vice President Kamala Harris (D). A special election will be held in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District to fill the vacant seat Fudge previously held.
  • The Senate confirmed Merrick Garland as attorney general on Wednesday by a vote of 70-30. All 30 votes against his nomination came from Republicans. Garland will be sworn in on Thursday.
  • The Senate also confirmed Michael Regan as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency by a vote of 66-34. All 34 votes against his nomination came from Republicans.


  • Biden will deliver his first primetime address as president on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET to mark the anniversary of the beginning of coronavirus-related shutdowns.
  • Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021—which includes direct stimulus payments, extended unemployment benefits, and increased funding for vaccine distribution—on Wednesday. Biden will sign the bill into law on Friday. For more information about the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

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.

Seven weeks after their respective inaugurations, Biden had 12 of these secretaries confirmed and Obama had 13. One of these Obama Cabinet members—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

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