Author

Amee LaTour

Amee LaTour is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Former Sen. David Perdue (Geo.) will not run for U.S. Senate in 2022

Former Sen. David Perdue (R), who lost to Jon Ossoff (D) in the January runoff election for Senate in Georgia, announced he will not run for the state’s other Senate seat in 2022. Raphael Warnock (D), who defeated incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) in the special runoff election in January, currently holds the seat. 

Georgia is one of eight 2022 Senate states that none of three independent race raters consider to be safely Democratic or Republican. Thirty-four seats are up for election next year. Georgia’s seat is one of four that flipped the last time these seats were up for election. 

Warnock defeated Loeffler by 2.1 percentage points in January. Prior to the runoff, 20 candidates were on the special November election ballot. Warnock received 33% of the vote to Loeffler’s 26%. Doug Collins (R) placed third with 20% of the vote. The six Republican candidates combined received 49.4% of the vote to the eight Democratic candidates’ combined 48.4% in the November election. 

Both Loeffler and Collins are considering running for Senate again in 2022.

Other potential battlegrounds in 2022 are Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Republicans and Democrats each currently hold four battleground seats. In Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Republican incumbents are not seeking re-election. Along with Georgia’s Senate seat, Democrats flipped New Hampshire’s and Nevada’s seats the last time they were up for election.

Additional Reading:



Ballotpedia’s Weekly Transition Tracker: February 15-19, 2021

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 will debate and vote on Tom Vilsack‘s nomination for secretary of agriculture on Feb. 23.
  • The Budget Committee scheduled a vote on whether to advance Neera Tanden‘s nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget for Feb. 24. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs also held a confirmation hearing for Tanden and has not scheduled a vote yet.
  • The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will meet Feb. 24 to decide whether to advance Isabel Guzman‘s nomination for administrator of the Small Business Administration to a full Senate vote.
  • The following confirmation hearings are scheduled for next week:
  • On Feb. 22 and Feb. 23, the Judiciary Committee will hold hearings for Merrick Garland for attorney general. 
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for Xavier Becerra‘s nomination for secretary of health and human services for Feb. 23. 
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for Debra Haaland‘s nomination for secretary of the interior for Feb. 23.
  • The Senate Finance Committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for Katherine Tai, Biden’s nominee for U.S. trade representative, for Feb. 25. 

Executive Actions

  • Biden signed an executive order on Feb. 14 relaunching the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The office was established by George W. Bush, aimed at partnering with faith-based and secular organizations to deliver services. President Donald Trump did not appoint a director of the office during his tenure, creating instead the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives. Melissa Rogers, who served as executive director of the office under President Barack Obama, is reassuming that role under Biden. 
  • Biden signed an executive order on Feb. 17 rescinding Donald Trump’s executive order creating industry-recognized apprenticeships. Biden said the programs “have fewer quality standards than registered apprenticeship programs.” Biden also endorsed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, which he said would expand registered apprenticeships, and reinstated the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships.

Other News

  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Feb. 12 that the Biden administration intends to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and would begin a review process. 
  • The Washington Post reported on Feb. 12 that the “Biden administration is seeking a court’s blessing to propose a new rule aimed at limiting greenhouse gas pollution from the nation’s power plants.” 
  • Biden issued a statement on Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Feb. 13 after the Senate acquitted Trump of incitement of insurrection. Biden said, “This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”
  • Based on an executive order from January, HealthCare.gov opened a special enrollment period Feb. 15, ending May 15. 
  • Biden participated in a CNN town hall on Feb. 16. Anderson Cooper moderated.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Agriculture announced extensions to forbearance and foreclosure relief programs. They extended the foreclosure moratorium and the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment deadline to June 30 and are providing up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance for those who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.
  • On Feb. 16, the Department of Homeland Security disapproved a contract that former acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli signed with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) union. The contract would have granted ICE employees a say in immigration policy decisions. A DHS spokesperson said, “DHS will make policy decisions in accordance with the law and based on what’s best for national security, public safety, and border security while upholding our nation’s values.”
  • Axios reported that Tracy Renaud, acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, signed a memo encouraging immigration officials to use “more inclusive language in the agency’s outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners and the general public.” Officials have been encouraged to replace the word “alien” with “noncitizen” and “illegal alien” with “undocumented noncitizen” or “undocumented individual.”
  • On Feb. 17, Biden nominated Jennifer Abruzzo for general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. He also nominated Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to serve as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) introduced Biden’s immigration proposal in the Senate and House on Feb. 18. The bill would provide an eight-year path for people living in the country without legal permission to become citizens, remove restrictions on family-based immigration, and expand worker visas. According to The New York Times, it also “invests $4 billion over four years in distressed economies in the hopes of preventing people from fleeing to the United States because of security and economic crises.” 
  • Interim guidance went into effect Feb. 18 for Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees. The guidance establishes three priority categories for arresting and deporting noncitizens in the country without permission: people seen as posing a national security threat, such as those engaged in espionage or terrorism; those who entered the U.S. on or after Nov. 1, 2020; and those seen as posing a threat to public safety and convicted of an aggravated felony or involved in gang activity. The guidance remains in effect until Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas releases new guidelines.  
  • The Biden administration announced on Feb. 18 it is willing to begin talks with Iran and world leaders about returning to the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, from which Donald Trump withdrew in 2018. Biden also rescinded Trump’s restoration of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

Transition in Context: In Their Words…

Here’s what Democratic and Republican leaders, advisers, and stakeholders said about Xavier Becerra as the nominee for secretary of health and human services.

  • “Curiously, the President’s candidate to run the Department of Health and Human Services is the famously partisan Attorney General of California. His recent experience in health policy seems largely limited to promoting abortion on-demand and suing groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor who dare to live out their religious convictions.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R)
  • “I think he’s going to be the perfect wingman to the Bernie Sanders approach to healthcare. … My main reservation is … why would you not want to reform the healthcare system before you get government more involved with it?” — Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
  • “There are a lot of partisans in Washington. … That is not Xavier’s style. He doesn’t have sharp elbows. Yes, he’s left of center. But he is not a ‘my way or the highway’ type.'” — Former Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Penn.)
  • “The story his record tells alone is clear, compelling, and persuasive. He has fought against tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies, and polluters, and for the Affordable Care Act, reproductive rights, and the health and wellbeing of migrant children. With a record like that there can be no doubt he is going to continue to be a champion for patients as Secretary of Health and Human Services.” — Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Transition in Context: Pace of confirmations

The following two charts compare 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), Donald Trump (R), and Joe Biden (D). They do not include Cabinet-rank officials that vary by administration.

Four weeks after their respective inaugurations, Biden had six Cabinet secretaries confirmed and Obama had eleven. A twelfth Obama Cabinet member—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration. Trump had nine of these secretaries confirmed.

Transition in Context: Reconciliation primer

What is reconciliation?

Reconciliation is a process Congress can use to expedite consideration of certain budget-related bills. Reconciliation bills are not subject to filibuster in the Senate. A filibuster occurs when debate on a bill is extended, allowing one or more senators to delay or prevent a vote on a given proposal, since 60 votes are required to end a filibuster. With reconciliation, debate on a proposal is capped at 20 hours. 

Congress has begun the reconciliation process on Biden’s “American Rescue Plan,” a $1.9 trillion proposal he says will provide relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. The House agreed to the Senate’s budget resolution on Feb. 5—the first step in the process. Control of the Senate is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris (D) casting tie-breaking votes. 

Budget reconciliation was created by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under the act, reconciliation can be used on legislation that changes the federal debt limit, revenue, or spending. 

The Process

For reconciliation measures to be considered by Congress, a budget resolution must be agreed to by both chambers. This resolution must include resolution instructions. Resolution instructions contain four elements:

1. the relevant committee(s) to which the instruction is directed,

2. the deadline by which committee compliance must be achieved,

3. the specific change to either revenues, spending, or the debt (in dollars), and

4. the time period over which those budgetary changes must be achieved.

Once both chambers agree on a budget resolution, committees have until deadlines specified in the resolution guidelines to produce reconciliation measures. 

Once a committee develops reconciliation measures, the committee votes on whether to report the resolution to the chamber. 

If the measure passes, differences between the chambers are usually resolved in conference. The Senate, however, limits debate time on a conference budget resolution.

Limits

Congress is limited to using reconciliation for only one bill for each of the fiscal changes provided for in the reconciliation instructions (changes to revenues, spending, and the debt limit). A single bill may make changes to all three, or two of three, but Congress cannot consider multiple bills satisfying the same instruction in a budget resolution. 

In the Senate, reconciliation measures are subject to the Byrd Rule, named for the sponsor of the rule, former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.). The Byrd Rule permits senators to block provisions of reconciliation bills that are considered extraneous.

History of use

Since the introduction of the reconciliation process in 1974, Congresses have passed 21 reconciled bills. Four of those were vetoed—three by President Bill Clinton and one by President Barack Obama. The rest became law.

Click here to learn more about reconciliation and the filibuster. 

What We’re Reading



Biden’s immigration plan introduced in Congress

February 19, 2021: Biden’s immigration plan was introduced in the House and Senate, and ICE released new guidance

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 Finance Committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for Katherine Tai, Biden’s nominee for U.S. trade representative, for Feb. 25.

News

  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) introduced Biden’s immigration proposal in the Senate and House on Feb. 18. The bill would provide an eight-year path for people living in the country without legal permission to become citizens, remove restrictions on family-based immigration, and expand worker visas. According to The New York Times, it also “invests $4 billion over four years in distressed economies in the hopes of preventing people from fleeing to the United States because of security and economic crises.” 
  • Interim guidance went into effect Feb. 18 for Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees. The guidance establishes three priority categories for arresting and deporting noncitizens in the country without permission: people seen as posing a national security threat, such as those engaged in espionage or terrorism; those who entered the U.S. on or after Nov. 1, 2020; and those seen as posing a threat to public safety and convicted of an aggravated felony or involved in gang activity. The guidance remains in effect until Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas releases new guidelines.  
  • The Biden administration announced on Feb. 18 it is willing to begin talks with Iran and world leaders about returning to the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, from which Donald Trump withdrew in 2018. Biden also rescinded Trump’s restoration of U.N. sanctions on Iran.

Transition in Context: In Their Words…

Here’s what Democratic and Republican leaders, advisers, and stakeholders said about Xavier Becerra as the nominee for secretary of health and human services.

  • “Curiously, the President’s candidate to run the Department of Health and Human Services is the famously partisan Attorney General of California. His recent experience in health policy seems largely limited to promoting abortion on-demand and suing groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor who dare to live out their religious convictions.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R)
  • “I think he’s going to be the perfect wingman to the Bernie Sanders approach to healthcare. … My main reservation is … why would you not want to reform the healthcare system before you get government more involved with it?” — Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
  • “There are a lot of partisans in Washington. … That is not Xavier’s style. He doesn’t have sharp elbows. Yes, he’s left of center. But he is not a ‘my way or the highway’ type.'” — Former Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Penn.)
  • “The story his record tells alone is clear, compelling, and persuasive. He has fought against tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies, and polluters, and for the Affordable Care Act, reproductive rights, and the health and wellbeing of migrant children. With a record like that there can be no doubt he is going to continue to be a champion for patients as Secretary of Health and Human Services.” — Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

What We’re Reading



Budget Committee schedules vote on Tanden nomination

February 18, 2021: The Budget Committee will vote next week on whether to advance Neera Tanden’s nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget 

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 Budget Committee scheduled a vote on whether to advance Neera Tanden‘s nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget for Feb. 24. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs also held a confirmation hearing for Tanden and has not scheduled a vote yet.

News

  • Biden signed an executive order rescinding Donald Trump’s executive order creating industry-recognized apprenticeships. Biden said the programs “have fewer quality standards than registered apprenticeship programs.” Biden also endorsed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, which he said would expand registered apprenticeships, and reinstated the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships.
  • Biden nominated Jennifer Abruzzo for general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. 
  • Biden nominated Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to serve as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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.

Four weeks after their respective inaugurations, Biden had six Cabinet secretaries confirmed and Obama had eleven. A twelfth Obama Cabinet member—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

Note: In yesterday’s edition, we said Biden and Trump both had six Cabinet nominees confirmed 27 days after their inaugurations. Trump had nine nominees confirmed by that point. We apologize for the mistake! See a corrected version of yesterday’s “Transition in Context” feature here.

What We’re Reading



Analyzing partisan splits in states holding U.S. Senate elections in 2022

Thirty-four Senate seats are up for election on November 8, 2022. Republicans currently hold 20 and Democrats hold 14. 

For seats up for election next year, we look at party differences between the current Senate incumbent and their state’s other senator, their state’s governor, and their state’s 2020 presidential winner.

Split Senate delegations

Seven states have senators from different parties in the 117th Senate: Maine, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. This is the fewest number of states with split Senate delegations in history, according to Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota.

Four of the seven states with split delegations in 2021 have Senate seats up for election in 2022. Vermont has one Democratic senator and one independent senator who caucuses with Democrats, so three states with seats up for election have senators in different caucuses: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In all three, the seats up for election in 2022 are currently held by Republicans.

Senator’s vs. governor’s party

Eleven seats up for election are currently held by a senator of a different party than the state’s governor. Six seats held by Republican senators in states with Democratic governors are up. Five seats held by Democratic senators in states with Republican governors are up.

States won by presidential candidate of a different party

Democrats are not defending any Senate seats in states Donald Trump won in the 2020 presidential election. Republicans are defending two Senate seats in states Joe Biden won: Pennsylvania (held by Sen. Pat Toomey) and Wisconsin (held by Sen. Ron Johnson).

• In Pennsylvania, Biden defeated Trump (R) 50.0%-48.8%.

• In Wisconsin, Biden defeated Trump 49.5%-48.8%.

For additional information on the 2022 Senate elections, including outside race ratings and a full list of seats up for election, click below.

https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_Senate_elections,_2022

Additional Reading:



Confirmation hearings scheduled for Becerra, Haaland

February 17, 2021: Senate committees will hold confirmation hearings next week for Xavier Becerra for secretary of health and human services and Debra Haaland for secretary of the interior.  

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 Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Xavier Becerra‘s nomination for secretary of health and human services on Feb. 23.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for Debra Haaland‘s nomination for secretary of the interior for Feb. 23.

News

  • The Department of Homeland Security disapproved a contract that former acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli signed with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) union. The contract would have granted ICE employees a say in immigration policy decisions. A DHS spokesperson said, “DHS will make policy decisions in accordance with the law and based on what’s best for national security, public safety, and border security while upholding our nation’s values.”
  • Axios reported that Tracy Renaud, acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, signed a memo encouraging immigration officials to use “more inclusive language in the agency’s outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners and the general public.” Officials have been encouraged to replace the word “alien” with “noncitizen” and “illegal alien” with “undocumented noncitizen” or “undocumented individual.”

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 Donald Trump (R) and Joe Biden (D). It does not include Cabinet-rank officials that vary by administration.

Twenty-seven days after their respective inaugurations, Trump and Biden both had six of these secretaries confirmed.

What We’re Reading



Biden participates in town hall tonight

February 16, 2021: Biden will participate in a CNN town hall tonight at 9 ET

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 will debate and vote on Tom Vilsack‘s nomination for secretary of agriculture on Feb. 23.
  • The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will meet Feb. 24 to decide whether to advance Isabel Guzman‘s nomination for administrator of the Small Business Administration to a full Senate vote.

News

  • Biden will participate in a CNN town hall tonight at 9 p.m. ET. Anderson Cooper will moderate. The town hall can be viewed on CNN, CNN.com, and CNNgo.
  • Based on an executive order from January, HealthCare.gov opened a special enrollment period Feb. 15, ending May 15. 
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Agriculture announced extensions to forbearance and foreclosure relief programs. They extended the foreclosure moratorium and the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment deadline to June 30 and are providing up to six months of additional mortgage payment forbearance for those who entered forbearance on or before June 30, 2020.
  • Biden signed an executive order on Feb. 14 relaunching the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The office was established by George W. Bush, aimed at partnering with faith-based and secular organizations to deliver services. President Donald Trump did not appoint a director of the office during his tenure, creating instead the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives. Melissa Rogers, who served as executive director of the office under President Barack Obama, is reassuming that role under Biden. 
  • Biden issued a statement on the impeachment trial on Feb. 13 after the Senate acquitted Trump of incitement of insurrection. Biden said, “This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”
  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Feb. 12 that the Biden administration intends to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and would begin a review process. 
  • The Washington Post reported on Feb. 12 that the “Biden administration is seeking a court’s blessing to propose a new rule aimed at limiting greenhouse gas pollution from the nation’s power plants.” 

Transition in Context: Reconciliation primer

What is reconciliation?

Reconciliation is a process Congress can use to expedite consideration of certain budget-related bills. Reconciliation bills are not subject to filibuster in the Senate. A filibuster occurs when debate on a bill is extended, allowing one or more senators to delay or prevent a vote on a given proposal, since 60 votes are required to end a filibuster. With reconciliation, debate on a proposal is capped at 20 hours. 

Congress has begun the reconciliation process on Biden’s “American Rescue Plan,” a $1.9 trillion proposal he says will provide relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. The House agreed to the Senate’s budget resolution on Feb. 5—the first step in the process. Control of the Senate is split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris (D) casting tie-breaking votes. 

Budget reconciliation was created by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under the act, reconciliation can be used on legislation that changes the federal debt limit, revenue, or spending. 

The Process

For reconciliation measures to be considered by Congress, a budget resolution must be agreed to by both chambers. This resolution must include resolution instructions. Resolution instructions contain four elements:

1. the relevant committee(s) to which the instruction is directed,

2. the deadline by which committee compliance must be achieved,

3. the specific change to either revenues, spending, or the debt (in dollars), and

4. the time period over which those budgetary changes must be achieved.

Once both chambers agree on a budget resolution, committees have until deadlines specified in the resolution guidelines to produce reconciliation measures. 

Once a committee develops reconciliation measures, the committee votes on whether to report the resolution to the chamber. 

If the measure passes, differences between the chambers are usually resolved in conference. The Senate, however, limits debate time on a conference budget resolution.

Limits

Congress is limited to using reconciliation for only one bill for each of the fiscal changes provided for in the reconciliation instructions (changes to revenues, spending, and the debt limit). A single bill may make changes to all three, or two of three, but Congress cannot consider multiple bills satisfying the same instruction in a budget resolution. 

In the Senate, reconciliation measures are subject to the Byrd Rule, named for the sponsor of the rule, former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.). The Byrd Rule permits senators to block provisions of reconciliation bills that are considered extraneous.

History of use

Since the introduction of the reconciliation process in 1974, Congresses have passed 21 reconciled bills. Four of those were vetoed—three by President Bill Clinton and one by President Barack Obama. The rest became law.

Click here to learn more about reconciliation and the filibuster. 

What We’re Reading



Ballotpedia’s Weekly Transition Tracker: February 8-12, 2021

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.

  • On Monday, the Senate confirmed Denis McDonough for secretary of veterans affairs by a vote of 87-7. McDonough is the second non-veteran to hold this office. The following senators voted against his confirmation: Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.).
  • The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works advanced the nomination of Michael Regan for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency by a vote of 14-6 on Tuesday. We’ll provide a list of the six Republicans who voted against advancing the nomination when it is available.
  • On Thursday, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee advanced the nominations of  Miguel Cardona for secretary of education and Marty Walsh for secretary of labor to full Senate votes. 
    • The committee advanced Cardona’s nomination 17-5. The senators who voted against advancing the nomination were Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala).
    • The committee advanced Walsh’s nomination 18-4. Braun, Paul, Scott, and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) voted against advancing the nomination.
  • Two confirmation hearings were held this week, both for Neera Tanden for director of the Office of Management and Budget. On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a confirmation hearing. The Senate Budget Committee held a confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Read more on Tanden’s confirmation process in the “Transition in Context” section below.
  • No committee hearings are scheduled for Friday, and none have been scheduled for next week.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearing for U.S. attorney general on February 22-23. Garland will testify on the first day, while outside witnesses will speak on the second day.

Executive Actions

  • Biden signed an executive order related to the coup in Myanmar (Burma) that he said enables the U.S. “to immediately sanction the military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests, as well as close family members.” 
  • Biden rescinded former President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announcing his proclamation, Biden wrote, “I have also announced that it shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall, and that I am directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to that end.”
  • Biden issued a notice that he is continuing the national emergency with respect to Libya for one year. Former President Barack Obama declared the national emergency by executive order in February 2011. Obama and Trump had extended the order several times while in office.

Other News

  • The Associated Press reported that Biden was considering instructing the Department of Justice to halt new executions. When asked about a moratorium on Feb. 5, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The President has spoken about his opposition to the death penalty in the past, but I don’t have anything to predict for you or preview for you in terms of additional steps.”
  • The Biden administration suspended three asylum cooperative agreements established by the Trump administration with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras on Feb. 6. Under these agreements, asylum seekers from the region were expected to seek refuge in these Central American countries before applying for asylum in the U.S. 
  • Under the Biden administration, the United States will return to the United Nations Human Rights Council as an observer. Trump withdrew from the council three years ago, citing bias against Israel and other issues.
  • Biden said he did not expect a $15 minimum wage to be in the final COVID-19 economic relief bill, although it was in his initial proposal.
  • Vox reported that the potential choices for commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had been narrowed to Janet Woodcock, the acting FDA commissioner, and Joshua Sharfstein, a former principal deputy commissioner at the FDA.
  • The Department of Justice dropped a Trump administration lawsuit challenging California’s net neutrality law. Jessica Rosenworcel, the acting chairwoman of the FCC, said in a statement, “When the FCC, over my objection, rolled back its net neutrality policies, states like California sought to fill the void with their own laws. By taking this step, Washington is listening to the American people, who overwhelmingly support an open internet, and is charting a course to once again make net neutrality the law of the land.”
  • The White House said on Feb. 9 that the Biden administration planned to keep the U.S. embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. The Trump administration moved the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018.
  • The Biden administration asked all Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys to resign with two exceptions. The two attorneys allowed to stay on are David Weiss and John Durham, who are investigating Hunter Biden’s taxes and the FBI probe into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, respectively.  
  • Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), along with four Republican House members and the Illinois Republican Party, requested Biden allow U.S. Attorney John Lausch to continue in his role investigating public corruption charges in Illinois.
  • Federal judge Drew Tipton, who sits on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, extended an order blocking Biden’s moratorium on deportations for two more weeks. Tipton was appointed by Trump in 2020.
  • The Justice Department said on Tuesday that it would continue efforts to have WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange extradited from the United Kingdom.
  • The Department of Justice withdrew federal government support for a case against the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. Supreme Court. Several states filed the lawsuit, arguing that the individual mandate provision is no longer a valid exercise of Congress’ authority after Congress eliminated the payment in 2017 and that the rest of the law is invalid due to that provision. Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler wrote that “it is now the position of the United States that the amended Section 5000A is constitutional” and that, “if this Court nevertheless concludes that Section 5000A(a) is unconstitutional, that provision is severable from the remainder of the ACA.”
  • The Department of Justice also asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to hold off on an appeal of a ruling that blocked the Trump administration’s restrictions on the video app TikTok while the Department evaluates the situation. According to the Associated Press, “Trump cited concerns that the Chinese government could spy on TikTok users if the app remains under Chinese ownership.” 
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a memorandum kicking off implementation of Biden’s Jan. 20 executive order directing agency heads to review policies in order to bar discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. HUD said it “interprets the Fair Housing Act to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and direct[s] HUD offices and recipients of HUD funds to enforce the Act accordingly.”
  • The Biden administration announced it would begin allowing an estimated 25,000 people seeking asylum at the Mexican border into the U.S. while they await immigration court hearings. The process is set to begin Feb. 19 with around 300 people per day. 
  • The Wall Street Journal reported that Biden will begin the process of revoking permissions for states to implement work requirements for Medicaid on Friday.
  • Axios reported that Biden is considering two Republicans for ambassadorships: Former Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Cindy McCain, widow of former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Transition in Context: In Their Words…

Here’s what leaders, advisers, and stakeholders said about Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, during and after her hearings before the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Tanden is president and CEO of the Center for American Progress (CAP).

  • “Before I vote on your nomination, it is important for me and members of this committee to know that those donations that you have secured at CAP will not influence your decision making at the OMB.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
  • “I’ve known her for a while, very nice person, but [she’s] not the unity pick I was looking for. … In a time of unity, we’re picking somebody who throws sharp elbows, and there’s going to be consequences for that.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
  • “[T]he President wouldn’t nominate anyone he wasn’t confident could get confirmed and didn’t deserve the consideration and confirmation … of Senate Democrats and Republicans.” — White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki

Tanden responded to questions and criticisms about CAP donations and her past tweets with the following:

  • Tanden said CAP donations would have “zero impact” on her decision-making and that “it will be my role to ensure that I am only serving the interests of the American people.” 
  • She said of her past tweets, “Social media does lead to too many personal comments, and my approach [at OMB] would be radically different.” She also said, “I deeply regret and apologize for my language.”

Transition in Context: Pace of Confirmations

The following two charts compare the pace of Senate confirmations for the 15 main Cabinet secretaries following the inaugurations of Presidents Barack Obama (D), Donald Trump (R), and Joe Biden (D).

Twenty days after their respective inaugurations, Trump and Biden both had six of these secretaries confirmed.

Three weeks after their respective inaugurations, Biden had six Cabinet secretaries confirmed and Obama had eleven. A twelfth Obama Cabinet member—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

Transition in Context: What makes the confirmation process for the director of the Office of Management and Budget different?

While most nominations are reviewed by a single Senate committee, the process for nominations for the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is different.

Neera Tanden will be the only Cabinet-rank nominee to face two different committees as part of her confirmation process for OMB director. Why? Two Senate committees have joint jurisdiction over this position: the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Senate Budget Committee. 

Another unusual part of the confirmation process for Tanden is that she must submit her tax returns, in addition to the other standard financial disclosures.

Transition in Context: Tie-breaking votes

Vice President Kamala Harris (D) cast her first two tie-breaking votes as president of the Senate on Feb. 5. Both were related to the economic relief bill.

Vice President Mike Pence (R) cast 13 tie-breaking votes during his four years in office, the most since the Van Buren administration in the nineteenth century. As vice president in the Obama administration, Biden did not cast any tie-breaking votes.

The following chart shows the number of tie-breaking votes cast by vice presidents over the past four decades.

What We’re Reading



Cardona, Walsh nominations advanced to full Senate votes

February 12, 2021: The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee advanced the nominations of Miguel Cardona and Marty Walsh to full Senate votes. 

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 Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee advanced the nominations of  Miguel Cardona for secretary of education and Marty Walsh for secretary of labor to full Senate votes. 
    • The committee advanced Cardona’s nomination 17-5. The senators who voted against advancing the nomination were Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala).
    • The committee advanced Walsh’s nomination 18-4. Braun, Paul, Scott, and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) voted against advancing the nomination.

News

  • Biden rescinded former President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announcing his proclamation, Biden wrote, “I have also announced that it shall be the policy of my Administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall, and that I am directing a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to that end.”
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a memorandum kicking off implementation of Biden’s Jan. 20 executive order directing agency heads to review policies in order to bar discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. HUD said it “interprets the Fair Housing Act to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and direct[s] HUD offices and recipients of HUD funds to enforce the Act accordingly.”
  • The Biden administration announced it would begin allowing an estimated 25,000 people seeking asylum at the Mexican border into the U.S. while they await immigration court hearings. The process is set to begin Feb. 19 with around 300 people per day. 
  • The Wall Street Journal reported that Biden will begin the process of revoking permissions for states to implement work requirements for Medicaid on Friday.
  • Axios reported that Biden is considering two Republicans for ambassadorships: Former Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Cindy McCain, widow of former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Transition in Context: In Their Words…

Here’s what leaders, advisers, and stakeholders said about Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, during and after her hearings before the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Tanden is president and CEO of the Center for American Progress (CAP).

  • “Before I vote on your nomination, it is important for me and members of this committee to know that those donations that you have secured at CAP will not influence your decision making at the OMB.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
  • “I’ve known her for a while, very nice person, but [she’s] not the unity pick I was looking for. … In a time of unity, we’re picking somebody who throws sharp elbows, and there’s going to be consequences for that.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
  • “[T]he President wouldn’t nominate anyone he wasn’t confident could get confirmed and didn’t deserve the consideration and confirmation … of Senate Democrats and Republicans.” — White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki

Tanden responded to questions and criticisms about CAP donations and her past tweets with the following:

  • Tanden said CAP donations would have “zero impact” on her decision-making and that “it will be my role to ensure that I am only serving the interests of the American people.” 
  • She said of her past tweets, “Social media does lead to too many personal comments, and my approach [at OMB] would be radically different.” She also said, “I deeply regret and apologize for my language.”

What We’re Reading



Committee to vote on whether to advance Cardona, Walsh nominations

February 11, 2021: The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will vote on whether to advance Miguel Cardona and Marty Walsh for full Senate votes.

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.

  • No committee hearings are scheduled Thursday.
  • The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will vote on whether to advance the nominations of Miguel Cardona for secretary of education and Marty Walsh for secretary of labor.

News

  • The Department of Justice withdrew federal government support for a case against the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. Supreme Court. Several states filed the lawsuit, arguing that the individual mandate provision is no longer a valid exercise of Congress’ authority after Congress eliminated the payment in 2017 and that the rest of the law is invalid due to that provision. Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler wrote that “it is now the position of the United States that the amended Section 5000A is constitutional” and that, “if this Court nevertheless concludes that Section 5000A(a) is unconstitutional, that provision is severable from the remainder of the ACA.”
  • The Department of Justice also asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to hold off on an appeal of a ruling that blocked the Trump administration’s restrictions on the video app TikTok while the Department evaluates the situation. According to the Associated Press, “Trump cited concerns that the Chinese government could spy on TikTok users if the app remains under Chinese ownership.” 
  • Biden signed an executive order related to the coup in Myanmar (Burma) that he said enables the U.S. “to immediately sanction the military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests, as well as close family members.” 
  • William Hyslop, U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington, announced he would resign at the end of February in response to the Biden administration’s request that 56 (all but two) U.S. attorneys appointed by Trump resign. 

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.

Three weeks after their respective inaugurations, Biden had six Cabinet secretaries confirmed and Obama had eleven. A twelfth Obama Cabinet member—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

What We’re Reading