Ballotpedia’s Weekly Transition Tracker: April 3-9, 2021

Every weekday, Ballotpedia is tracking key presidential appointments, executive actions, and policy developments from the Biden administration.

  • There were no committee hearings scheduled this week. The Senate stands adjourned until April 12 for a full session.

Executive Actions and Nominations

  • Biden announced David Chipman as his nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) on Thursday. Chipman is an explosives expert and former ATF agent. The White House said in a statement, “As a father, public servant, gun owner, and decorated law enforcement professional Chipman has spent his life serving the public, combating violent crime, and striving to make our nation and our communities safer every day.”
  • Biden also announced several executive actions he planned to take to address gun violence, including the review of policy on unregistered firearms assembled at home, which the White House called ghost guns; the regulation of pistol-stabilizing braces; model legislation for red flag laws; community violence interventions; and an annual report on firearms trafficking.
  • On Tuesday, Biden said that he would nominate Robin Carnahan (D) to serve as the administrator of the General Services Administration. Carnahan is a former Missouri secretary of state, serving from 2005 to 2013.

Other News

  • Seven Democratic governors—Phil Murphy (N.J.), Gavin Newsom (Calif.), Ned Lamont (Conn.), David Ige (Hawaii), J.B. Pritzker (Ill.), Andrew Cuomo (N.Y.), and Kate Brown (Ore.)—called on Biden to lift the $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions established during the Trump administration. 
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview on Saturday that he planned to move forward with a marijuana legalization bill whether or not Biden supported it.
  • The Senate parliamentarian ruled on Monday that a revised budget resolution could use the reconciliation process, which would allow the Senate to pass spending legislation by a simple majority vote rather than 60 votes.
  • On Tuesday, Biden moved up the deadline for all adults to be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine from May 1 to April 19. For more information about vaccine distribution and eligibility by state, click here.
  • The Open Society Foundations planned to spend $20 million to promote Biden’s infrastructure and social welfare proposals. Axios reported that spending on the campaign could reach $100 million.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said on Monday that he opposed Biden’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, preferring instead 25%. “If I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere. So we’re going to have some leverage here. And it’s more than just me. … There’s six or seven other Democrats that feel very strongly about this,” Manchin said.
  • Manchin also wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on his opposition to eliminating or weakening the filibuster.
  • Tennessee and Kentucky filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration regarding tax provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act. The complaint said the tax provisions prohibit states that receive federal aid under the law from lowering taxes for several years, constituting a federal overreach.
  • Biden promoted the American Jobs Plan during remarks at the White House on Wednesday. His administration also began conducting outreach to governors and mayors and making local TV appearances to support the plan.
  • Jill Biden announced details of her Joining Forces initiative on Wednesday, which will include expanding job opportunities for military spouses and access to mental health services.
  • The White House is vetting Amos Hochstein as a potential special envoy to halt the Nord Stream 2, the Russia-Germany gas pipeline project. Hochstein was a special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs in the Obama administration.
  • Biden is expected to release the initial outline of his proposed 2022 federal budget on Friday, which will include $715 billion for the Pentagon, up from $704 billion this fiscal year. 
  • During a court hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday, the Biden administration will announce its position on whether the Dakota Access pipeline should be shut down.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democrats would likely pursue separate legislation on infrastructure and jobs, with a target of passing both before Congress’ August recess.

Transition in Context: Flashback to Trump’s First Year in Office

Here’s a look at what President Donald Trump (R) was doing this week during his first year in office.

  • April 5, 2017: Trump removed White House chief strategist Steve Bannon from the principals committee of the National Security Council.
  • April 6, 2017: Trump announced he had ordered airstrikes in Syria in response to chemical attacks on civilians allegedly ordered by Syrian President Bashar Assad.
  • Apri 7, 2017: Trump hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mar-a-Lago for a second day.
  • April 8, 2017: The Pentagon said a U.S. Navy carrier strike group heading for Australia was instead being moved near the Korean peninsula.
  • April 9, 2017: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with diplomats from the G-7 countries.

Transition in Context: Flashback to Obama’s First Year in Office

Here’s a look at what President Barack Obama (D) was doing this week during his first year in office.

  • April 6, 2009: Obama addressed the Turkish parliament in Ankara as part of his first overseas trip as president.
  • April 7, 2009: Obama visited troops at Camp Victory near Baghdad, Iraq.
  • April 8, 2009: Obama was expected to make a supplemental request of $83 billion to help continue to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September.
  • April 9, 2009: Obama hosted a Passover Seder at the White House.
  • April 10, 2009: Obama met with financial regulators to discuss the health of 19 of the biggest U.S. banks.

Transition in Context: Presidential Approval Rating

The following chart compares the presidential approval ratings of Presidents Donald Trump (R) and Joe Biden (D) on a week-over-week basis. This number is taken from the 30-day average of polls conducted by a select list of polling organizations and outlets. Click here to read the list of polling organizations used.

President Biden’s approval rating for the tenth week of his term was 51.9%, down 1.3 percentage points from the week before. President Trump’s approval rating at the same point in his term was 42.3%, down 2.3 percentage points from the week before.

Transition in Context: Congressional Approval Rating

The following chart compares congressional approval ratings during the administrations of Presidents Donald Trump (R) and Joe Biden (D) on a week-over-week basis. 

Congress’ approval rating during the tenth week of President Biden’s term was 24.6%, down 1.9 percentage points from the week before. At the same point in President Trump’s term, Congress’ approval rating was 18.5%, down 1.8 percentage points from the week before.

Transition in Context: In Their Words…

Here’s what Democratic and Republican leaders have said about the American Jobs Plan.

  • “I don’t think the bill can grow into a multi-trillion-dollar catch-all. A transportation bill needs to be a transportation bill, not a Green New Deal. It needs to be about roads and bridges.” – Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.)
  • “You can’t separate the climate part from this vision because every road we fix, every bridge we build, we can either do it in a way that’s better for the climate or worse for the climate. Why wouldn’t we want to be creating these jobs in a way that’s better for the climate?” – Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg (D)
  • “They’re terming it ‘social infrastructure.’ Never heard that before. I think we need to talk to the American people and say, ‘Is this what you envision with infrastructure? Are these job creators? Are we re-engineering our own social fabric here with a 50-vote majority?’” – Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)
  • “I think it’s a wish list for every single mayor and almost every governor across the country. I mean, I think that this is something that, if I were the mayor of Boston a week ago when the president unveiled this plan, I would be excited because almost every aspect of this plan touches somebody in the city of Boston. And I can speak for a lot of mayors around the country. They’re very excited about this legislation. So I don’t think they view it as a liberal wish list. They view it as something that is much needed in America.” – Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh (D)

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