Ballotpedia’s Weekly Transition Tracker: April 10-16, 2021

Each week, Ballotpedia is tracking key presidential appointments, executive actions, and policy developments from the Biden administration. We will publish two more editions of the Weekly Transition Tracker for the remaining two weeks of Biden’s first 100 days in office.

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to advance the nomination of Samantha Power for administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development by voice vote on Thursday.

Executive Actions

  • The Biden administration announced several sanctions against Russia on Thursday in response to its cyberattacks and efforts to influence elections. After June 14, U.S. financial institutions will not be able to purchase bonds from or lend to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. Additionally, 10 members of the Russian diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C., are being expelled, and six Russian tech companies and 32 individuals are being sanctioned.
  • Biden is planning to issue an executive order requiring some federal agencies to consider climate risk assessments in how they regulate industry and lend federal funds, according to Politico.

Other News

  • In an interview on Sunday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Biden “wants to see major action in Congress and real progress by Memorial Day” for the infrastructure bill.
  • Biden announced his intent to nominate Jen Easterly as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and Chris Inglis as the newly established national cyber director on Monday. Easterly is a former senior counterterrorism and cybersecurity official who worked in the Obama administration. Inglis is the former deputy director of the National Security Agency.
  • Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) met with a bipartisan group of Congress members to discuss the American Jobs Plan on Monday.
  • Cindy McCain is under consideration for ambassador to the U.N. World Food Programme, which is based in Rome. If nominated, she would be Biden’s first Republican appointee for a position requiring Senate confirmation.
  • Biden announced nominees for two key immigration posts on Monday: Ur Jaddou for director of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and Chris Magnus for commissioner of Customs and Border Control. Jaddou previously worked at the CIS as the chief counsel during the Obama administration. Magnus is the police chief of border city Tucson, Arizona.
  • Biden sent several previously announced nominations to the Senate, including David Chipman for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and Robin Carnahan for administrator of general services.
  • Biden selected Christine Wormuth as his nominee for secretary of the Army. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to hold that position.
  • Biden domestic policy advisor Susan Rice said the Biden administration would not pursue a White House commission on policing. She said, instead, “The Biden-Harris Administration strongly supports the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and is working with Congress to swiftly enact meaningful police reform that brings profound, urgently needed change.”
  • Biden announced on Tuesday that he had selected Robert Santos as his nominee for director of the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Biden is scheduled to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress on April 28, accepting an invitation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday.
  • Biden announced on Wednesday that the U.S. will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. This is after the May 1 deadline the Trump administration set as part of an agreement with the Taliban.
  • The Biden administration will pursue a proposed $23 billion arms sale to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) initiated by the Trump administration after the UAE agreed to develop diplomatic relations with Israel.
  • Biden will appear with former President Barack Obama in an hour-long special on NBC to promote COVID-19 vaccinations. To learn more about vaccine distribution by state, click here.
  • Biden announced he had selected Erika Moritsugu as the Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison and deputy assistant to the president.
  • Biden announced nine Senior Foreign Service career members for ambassadorships on Thursday:
    • Larry Edward André, Jr. – Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Somalia
    • Elizabeth Moore Aubin – Ambassador to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
    • Steven C. Bondy – Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain
    • Maria E. Brewer – Ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho
    • Marc Evans Knapper – Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
    • Christopher John Lamora – Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon
    • Tulinabo S. Mushingi – Ambassador to the Republic of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome & Principe
    • Michael Raynor – Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau
    • Eugene S. Young – Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo
  • The Biden administration requested the Supreme Court decline to take up a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of an all-male military draft. Elizabeth Prelogar, the acting solicitor general, said Congress was reviewing whether women should be required to register for the draft, making consideration of the lawsuit premature.

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 12, 2017: The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration was considering developing a nationwide deportation force program.
  • April 13, 2017: Trump signed into law a bill that undid an Obama administration rule prohibiting state and local governments from withholding federal funding for qualified health providers offering family planning services related to contraception and other reproductive issues.
  • April 14, 2017: The Trump White House announced it would not release its visitor logs.
  • April 15, 2017: Tax Day protests were held in Washington, D.C., West Palm Beach, Florida, and other cities calling on Trump to release his personal tax returns. 
  • April 16, 2017: Trump attended an Easter service in Palm Beach, Florida.

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 13, 2009: Obama hosted the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
  • April 14, 2009: Obama delivered remarks on the economy at Georgetown University.
  • April 15, 2009: The Obama administration declined to call China a currency manipulator in a report on international currency practices.
  • April 16, 2009: Obama discussed investing $8 billion in high-speed rail development.
  • April 17, 2009: Obama attended the Summit of the Americas, where he said the United States would seek a new beginning with Cuba.

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 11th week of his term was 53.5%, up 1.6 percentage points from the week before. President Trump’s approval rating at the same point in his term was 41%, down 1.3 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. 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.

Congress’ approval rating during the 11th week of President Biden’s term was 24.2%, down 0.4 percentage points from the week before. At the same point in President Trump’s term, Congress’ approval rating was 15.8%, down 2.7 percentage points from the week before.

Transition in Context: In Their Words…

Here’s what Democratic and Republican leaders have said about the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court.

  • “With today’s executive order, the Biden Administration has pledged to study potential reforms to the Supreme Court.  This deliberative approach will be led by two highly renowned attorneys and legal scholars – Bob Bauer and Cristina Rodriguez – and I have full faith that they will lead this Commission with an open mind and a commitment to hearing many perspectives. I look forward to the Commission’s report and to discussions about important potential reforms.” – Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • “Of course, this is just another example of the liberal preference for attacking norms and institutions, rather than working within them. When Democrats lose a floor vote, it’s time to change Senate rules. When they lose a presidential election, it’s time to abolish the Electoral College. And when activists’ cases fall flat against the rule of law, it’s time to ignore Justices Ginsburg and Breyer and pack the Supreme Court.” – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
  • “I welcome President Biden’s announcement, but after years of Republicans upending precedent, breaking their own rules, and stealing seats on the Supreme Court in order to use it as a political pawn, we need more than a commission to restore integrity to the court. We need to abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.” – Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
  • “I share Justice Breyer and the late Justice Ginsburg’s view that nine is the right number of seats on the Supreme Court. If every new administration decides they can just pack the courts, there will be no limit to how many seats you could end up with. I think an Executive Branch commission that investigates and analyzes the work of the Supreme Court challenges the balance of power between the Executive and Judicial Branches, and puts the Court in a much more partisan and political place than it should be.” – Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

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