21 states sue Biden over Keystone XL pipeline permit

March 18, 2021: Twenty-one states filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for revoking the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

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 Judiciary Committee is holding a committee hearing to consider the nominations of Lisa Monaco for deputy attorney general and Vanita Gupta for associate attorney general on Thursday.
  • The Senate confirmed Katherine Tai as U.S. trade representative on Wednesday by a vote of 98-0. Two senators did not vote. Tai is the only Biden Cabinet nominee to receive no opposition to her nomination.


  • Texas, Montana, and 19 other states filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration for revoking the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. States not directly affected by the proposed path for the pipeline said its rejection would “also have a ripple effect that adversely impacts the economy and environment in non-pipeline states.”
  • The Washington Post reported that Rahul Gupta, the chief health and medical officer at the March of Dimes, was in consideration to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
  • A group of 20 senators—10 Democrats and 10 Republicans—met on Wednesday to discuss a bipartisan agenda. Breaking the filibuster in the Senate would require support from 10 Republicans.
  • The Biden administration announced it would spend $10 billion to implement COVID-19 screening programs in schools. 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.

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

What We’re Reading