Author

Emily Aubert

Emily Aubert is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Biden plans to run for reelection in 2024 with Harris

March 26, 2021: Joe Biden discussed the 2024 presidential election, voting rights legislation, economic recovery, immigration, and the filibuster in his first news conference as president.

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.

News

  • Biden held his first news conference on Thursday, where he discussed voting rights legislation, economic recovery, immigration and the filibuster. He said he intended to run for reelection in 2024 with Vice President Kamala Harris (D). He also doubled his vaccination goal from 100 million to 200 million doses administered in his first 100 days in office.
  • Biden is expected to announce the details of his infrastructure bill in Pittsburgh on Mar. 31. Reuters reported the bill could cost up to $4 trillion. 

Transition in Context

Here’s what Democratic and Republican leaders have said about gun ownership laws.

  • “I’m not trying to perfectly equate these two, but we have a lot of drunk drivers in America that kill a lot of people. We ought to combat that too. But I think what a lot of people on my side are saying is we ought not to get rid of all the sober drivers.” – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.)
  • “If a measure [extending background checks] that has 90 percent to 95 percent public support can’t pass the Senate just because of our rules — not because it doesn’t get the majority of support in the Senate — then something’s really wrong here. Democracy dies when things that have the majority of support in Congress, the support of the president and 90 percent public support can’t become a law.” – Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
  • “Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater, where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders. … When you disarm law-abiding citizens, you make them more likely to be victims.” – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
  • “Compromise is hard when Republican colleagues give speeches about how all these proposals are just trying to take away guns, seize your firearm from law-abiding citizens, which in fact, none of these proposals would do. So it sort of indicates that we have to overcome a gap that is created by the personal or political divide, not substantive disagreement.” – Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

What We’re Reading



Biden names Harris point person to reduce migration at southern border

March 25, 2021: President Joe Biden (D) announced on Wednesday that Vice President Kamala Harris (D) would oversee the White House’s efforts to address an increase in migrants at the southern border. 

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

  • The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is holding a confirmation hearing for Deanne Criswell to be the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

News

  • Biden is holding the first news conference of his presidency on Thursday at 1:15 p.m. ET. Biden’s four direct predecessors each held one news conference within their first 60 days in office. President John F. Kennedy (D) held the most at seven in 60 days. This is Biden’s 65th day in office.
  • Thirteen states, led by Louisiana, filed a lawsuit against Biden on Wednesday challenging a Jan. 27 executive order, which paused new oil and natural gas leases on public lands. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) called it an abuse of presidential power. Wyoming separately filed a lawsuit on the same issue on Wednesday.
  • Biden announced on Wednesday that Vice President Kamala Harris (D) would oversee the White House’s efforts to address an increase in migrants at the southern border on Wednesday. Her assignment includes working with Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries on the root issues of migration.

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.

Nine weeks after their respective inaugurations, Biden had all 15 of these secretaries confirmed. Obama had 14. One of these Obama Cabinet members—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

What We’re Reading



Young, Coloretti gain support for OMB director nomination

March 23, 2021: Outside groups advocate for Shalanda Young and Nani Coloretti for director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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

  • The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is holding a confirmation hearing for Samantha Power for administrator of the United States Agency for International Development on Tuesday.
  • The Senate confirmed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as secretary of labor on Monday by a vote of 68-29. All 29 votes against his nomination came from Republicans. Kim Janey, a member of the Boston City Council, became the acting mayor of Boston.

News

  • Biden is expected to appoint Jeffrey Feltman, a former senior United Nations official, as the special envoy for the Horn of Africa. The newly created position would be focused on the armed conflict in Ethiopia.
  • The Biden administration named career foreign service officer Ricardo Zúñiga as the special envoy for the Northern Triangle countries: Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The State Department said, “He also will hold our partners accountable for their commitments to address root causes of migration and the increase in arrivals of unaccompanied children at the U.S. southern border.” 
  • Biden nominated Lina Khan, an associated professor at Columbia Law School focused on antitrust law, to lead the Federal Trade Commission on Monday. 
  • Biden will hold the first political fundraiser of his presidency on Friday for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D), who is seeking re-election.
  • The Washington Post reported that Asian American advocacy groups have coalesced around Nani Coloretti as a potential nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Shalanda Young, nominee for deputy director of the OMB, is considered the frontrunner for the position. Ann O’Leary withdrew from consideration on Monday.

Transition in Context: What are special envoys?

Special envoys are agents appointed as the personal representative of the president or the secretary of state. They are often appointed in response to congressional or public attention to a particular region or issue.

President George Washington made the first such temporary diplomatic appointment in 1789, naming a private agent focused on normalizing diplomatic relations with Britain.

Special envoys can operate outside of the typical reach of an ambassador to address complex, multilateral issues. Critics of special envoys say they undercut the State Department.

Since they are responsive to the needs of each administration, there is no set number of special envoys. Biden, for example, created a new position when he appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry as the special presidential envoy for climate.

What We’re Reading



Senate to vote on Walsh’s nomination for labor secretary

March 22, 2021: The Senate is expected to vote on the nomination of Marty Walsh for secretary of labor on Monday evening.

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

  • The Senate is expected to vote on the nomination of Marty Walsh for secretary of labor on Monday evening. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee advanced his nomination in February by a vote of 18-4. 

News

  • The Biden administration contracted with hotels to house 1,200 migrants crossing the southern border in Arizona and Texas. The $86 million, six-month contract was facilitated by the nonprofit organization Endeavors.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Sunday that the U.S.-Mexico border was closed and that the U.S. would expel families and single adults. He continued, “We are building safe, orderly and humane ways to address the needs of vulnerable children. Do not come.”
  • Biden issued a proclamation on Friday to encourage awareness of unintentional poisonings and acknowledge National Poison Prevention Week.

Transition in Context: Executive Actions

The following table compares the number of executive orders issued by each of the four most recent presidents during his first two months in office. 

Biden has issued more executive orders during this time period than his three predecessors. He issued 32 executive orders in his first month and five in his second.

President Donald Trump (R) issued the most executive orders per year on average: 55.

What We’re Reading



Senate confirms Becerra for HHS secretary with 50-49 vote

March 19, 2021: The Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra as secretary of health and human services on Thursday by a vote of 50-49.

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 Xavier Becerra as secretary of health and human services on Thursday by a vote of 50-49. Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) was the only Republican to support his confirmation. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) did not vote. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will name Becerra’s replacement for California attorney general. 

News

  • Biden issued a proclamation on Thursday ordering flags be flown at half-staff to honor the victims of the March 16, 2021, Atlanta shooting.
  • Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) are postponing an event on their Help is Here Tour to meet with Asian-American and Pacific Islander leaders in Atlanta on Friday to discuss threats to the community.
  • NBC News reported that the Biden administration is considering a six-month extension to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond May 1—the withdrawal deadline previously agreed to by the Trump administration and the Taliban.
  • The Biden administration is planning to send 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada as part of a loan.
  • Biden is expected to select former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) as administrator of NASA. Nelson is one of the few civilians who has traveled to space, participating in a mission on board the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986.

Transition in Context: In Their Words…

Here’s what Democratic and Republican leaders, advisers, and stakeholders have said about a comprehensive immigration bill, including a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

  • “These parents bring their children, their hopes and dreams and aspirations for a better future for their children. That courage, that determination, those aspirations are American traits, and they all make America more American with all of that. Indeed, they are true and legitimate heirs, these Dreamers are, of our Founders.” – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
  • “God, no. I’m not in support of legalizing one person until you’re in control of the border.” – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
  • “Trump really set the stage and said, ‘Immigration is going to be an issue for the future of the Republican Party. And we’re against it.’” – Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
  • “The concern is, as soon as you bring something up to even start discussing it, you’re going to get a surge. So if you’re not ready to really do it, you shouldn’t play with that. I don’t hear us ready to do it.” – Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

What We’re Reading



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.

News

  • 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



Haaland confirmed by 51-40 vote, becomes first Native American Cabinet secretary

March 16, 2021: The Senate confirmed Debra Haaland for secretary of the interior on Monday by a vote of 51-40, making her the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

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 Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is holding a committee hearing for Julie Su for deputy secretary of labor.
  • The Senate confirmed Debra Haaland for secretary of the interior on Monday by a vote of 51-40, making her the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history. Four Republicans supported Haaland’s confirmation: Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Dan Sullivan (Alaska). Nine senators—six Republicans and three Democrats—did not vote. 
  • The Senate will vote on the nomination of Isabel Guzman for administrator of the Small Business Administration on Tuesday.

News

  • Thirteen Democratic senators, led by Tammy Baldwin (Wis.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio), called on Biden to temporarily suspend waivers of the Buy American program to prevent foreign companies from bidding on government contracts funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.
  • Bloomberg reported that Biden was planning a federal tax increase for earners making more than $400,000 a year. The taxes would pay, in part, for his economic and infrastructure plans.

Transition in Context: What is the USPS Board of Governors?

Biden sent nominations to the U.S. Senate for three candidates to be governors of the United States Postal Service on Monday:

  • Anton Hajjar
  • Amber McReynolds
  • Ronald Stroman

The Board of Governors—which consists of nine governors appointed by the president, the postmaster general, and the deputy postmaster general—was established in 1970 by the Postal Reorganization Act.

The nine governors select the postmaster general, who serves an indefinite term at their pleasure. The board is also responsible for directing expenditures, establishing compensation, and setting policies on postal issues.

Louis DeJoy is the current postmaster general. The deputy postmaster general office is vacant. There are two Democratic governors, four Republican governors, and three vacant seats.

What We’re Reading



Biden picks Gene Sperling for coronavirus relief czar

March 15, 2021: Biden is appointing economist Gene Sperling as the point person for his administration’s coronavirus relief plan.

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 vote on the nomination of Debra Haaland for secretary of the interior on Monday evening.
  • Cloture was also filed in the nominations of Isabel Guzman for administrator of the Small Business Administration and Katherine Tai for U.S. trade representative.

News

  • The Biden administration announced on Friday that it was terminating an information-sharing agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services that allowed information from potential sponsors of unaccompanied minors to be shared with immigration enforcement authorities.
  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Japan on Monday for the first in-person, overseas diplomatic meeting of the Biden administration.
  • Biden selected economist Gene Sperling as the point person for his administration’s coronavirus relief plan. This position does not require Senate confirmation. Sperling, who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations, will be responsible for implementing the stimulus package in the American Rescue Plan Act.
  • The U.S. Solicitor General’s Office requested the Supreme Court dismiss several cases related to cutting federal funding for medical facilities that referred patients to abortion services on Friday.

Transition in Context: Help is Here Tour

Biden and other administration officials are traveling across the country to promote the coronavirus economic recovery package. In 2019, the Trump administration similarly held a week of events to promote the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, beginning with Trump speaking in Minnesota.

Here is the schedule this week for Biden’s Help is Here Tour:

  • March 15: First Lady Jill Biden will be in Burlington, New Jersey. Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will be in Las Vegas.
  • March 16: Biden will be in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Harris and Emhoff will visit Denver.
  • March 17: Emhoff will be in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • March 19: Biden and Harris will be in Atlanta.

What We’re Reading



Ballotpedia’s Weekly Transition Tracker: March 6-12, 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 Wednesday, the Senate confirmed three members of Biden’s Cabinet.
    • The Senate confirmed Marcia Fudge as secretary of housing and urban development by a vote of 66-34. All 34 votes against her confirmation came from Republicans. 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 by a vote of 70-30. All 30 votes against his confirmation came from Republicans.
    • The Senate also confirmed Michael Regan as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency by a vote of 66-34. All 34 votes against his confirmation came from Republicans.
  • The Senate agreed to discharge the nomination of Xavier Becerra for secretary of health and human services on Thursday after he did not receive a recommendation from the Senate Committee on Finance. The 51-48 vote sets Becerra up for a potential confirmation vote next week. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined the Democrats in supporting the discharge petition.

Executive Actions

  • Biden issued an executive order on Sunday directing federal agencies to submit proposals on how to promote voter registration and participation and improve access to information about upcoming elections. The executive order also calls for the Vote.gov website to be modernized.
  • Biden signed two executive orders on Monday calling for the evaluation of Title IX rules on how sexual harassment and assault cases are handled at educational institutions and establishing a Gender Policy Council.

Other News

  • Twelve states, led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R), filed a lawsuit against Biden on Monday over an executive order he issued to assess the costs of and damages associated with greenhouse gas pollution. Schmitt called the executive order unlawful federal overreach. In addition to Missouri, the following states are involved: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.
  • Biden nominated Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost as commander of the United States Transportation Command and Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson as commander of the United States Southern Command. If confirmed, they would be the second and third women to lead a combatant command.
  • Biden selected Clare Martorana as his federal chief information officer on Tuesday. Martorana previously served as the chief information officer for the Office of Personnel Management. 
  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved a request to keep 2,300 National Guard members deployed at the Capitol through May 23.
  • 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. For more information about the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.
  • Biden delivered his first primetime address as president on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the beginning of coronavirus-related shutdowns. He announced that he is directing all states to expand eligibility for coronavirus vaccines to all individuals over the age of 18 by May 1.
  • Biden is meeting virtually with leaders from the Quad on Friday. This coalition, formed following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, includes three other democratic, Indo-Pacific countries: Japan, India, and Australia.

Transition in Context: Gender Policy Council

On Monday, Biden signed an executive order establishing the White House Gender Policy Council.

A similar group, called the White House Council on Women and Girls, existed during the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017. President Donald Trump (R) dissolved the council in his first year in office.

A Biden administration official said the new council’s name reflected that gender discrimination can happen to anyone. The official added, however, that “there will be a focus on women and girls, particularly women and girls of color, given the historical and disproportionate barriers that they face.”

Jennifer Klein and Julissa Reynoso will co-chair the council. Klein is the chief strategy and policy officer at TIME’S UP, and Reynoso is chief of staff to First Lady Jill Biden. 

Transition in Context: Multistate Lawsuits

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) filed the first multistate lawsuit against the Biden administration on Monday. Multistate lawsuits are legal actions involving two or more state attorneys general.

The following chart shows the number of multistate lawsuits filed against each previous administration from 1981 to 2021. During this time period, the Bush I administration saw the fewest lawsuits filed (20). The Trump administration saw the most multistate lawsuits with more than 150.

Transition in Context: Pace of Confirmations

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), Donald Trump (R), 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 Trump and Obama had 13. One of these Obama Cabinet members—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

Transition in Context: In Their Words…

Here’s what Democratic and Republican leaders, advisers, and stakeholders said about keeping, reforming, or eliminating the filibuster in the Senate.

  • “The Senate needs to abolish the filibuster. Right now, the Senate has 50 Republican senators. They represent less than 44% of America. And yet they still have the power to stop us from passing laws that a majority of America wants. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, and to be honest I started out believing we should keep the filibuster. Without it, I reasoned, what would stop a conservative president and Congress from doing terrible damage to women’s health care, voting rights and civil rights. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the filibuster has long been the enemy of progress. In fact, it’s been a highly effective tool to thwart the will of the people.” – Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.)
  • “Now they’re threatening to blow the place up and turn the Senate into the House, so that they can get their way, with presumably 50 Democrats voting yes and the vice president being in the chair. There is considerable reluctance on the other side to do that because people remember when they were in the minority. And what the Senate filibuster does is one of two things. Either really bad ideas don’t pass at all, or you sit down and reach a bipartisan agreement.” – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
  • “But right now, raising the minimum wage is getting bogged down in the Senate. Why? Because of the filibuster — a procedural loophole that lets an extreme minority of senators block the majority from passing bills that have the broad support of the American people. The filibuster is giving a veto to Mitch McConnell. A veto to the gun industry. A veto to the oil industry. For generations, racist senators took advantage of the filibuster to block anti-lynching laws and civil rights bills. And it’s still blocking progress today.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
  • “All Americans, whether or not they’re in the majority, deserve to be represented. But it’s particularly important when you consider that our country is pretty evenly split down the middle. While the advantage sometimes goes to Democrats and sometimes to Republicans, the truth is that our country is pretty evenly split. Which means any attempt to disenfranchise the minority party means disenfranchising half the country.” – Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)
  • “[Biden’s] preference is not to end the filibuster. He wants to work with Republicans, to work with independents. He believes that we’re stronger when we build a broad coalition of support.” – Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director

What We’re Reading



Senate agrees to advance Becerra nomination after deadlocked committee vote

March 12, 2021: The Senate voted to discharge Xavier Becerra’s nomination for secretary of health and human services from the Senate Finance Committee.

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 agreed to discharge the nomination of Xavier Becerra for secretary of health and human services on Thursday after he did not receive a recommendation from the Senate Committee on Finance. The 51-48 vote sets Becerra up for a potential confirmation vote next week. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined the Democrats in supporting the discharge petition.

News

  • Biden announced on Thursday that he is directing all states to expand eligibility for coronavirus vaccines to all individuals over the age of 18 by May 1. For more information about the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.
  • Biden is meeting virtually with leaders from the Quad on Friday. This coalition, formed following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, includes three other democratic, Indo-Pacific countries: Japan, India, and Australia.

Transition in Context: In Their Words…

Here’s what Democratic and Republican leaders, advisers, and stakeholders said about keeping, reforming, or eliminating the filibuster in the Senate.

  • “The Senate needs to abolish the filibuster. Right now, the Senate has 50 Republican senators. They represent less than 44% of America. And yet they still have the power to stop us from passing laws that a majority of America wants. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, and to be honest I started out believing we should keep the filibuster. Without it, I reasoned, what would stop a conservative president and Congress from doing terrible damage to women’s health care, voting rights and civil rights. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the filibuster has long been the enemy of progress. In fact, it’s been a highly effective tool to thwart the will of the people.” – Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.)
  • “Now they’re threatening to blow the place up and turn the Senate into the House, so that they can get their way, with presumably 50 Democrats voting yes and the vice president being in the chair. There is considerable reluctance on the other side to do that because people remember when they were in the minority. And what the Senate filibuster does is one of two things. Either really bad ideas don’t pass at all, or you sit down and reach a bipartisan agreement.” – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
  • “But right now, raising the minimum wage is getting bogged down in the Senate. Why? Because of the filibuster — a procedural loophole that lets an extreme minority of senators block the majority from passing bills that have the broad support of the American people. The filibuster is giving a veto to Mitch McConnell. A veto to the gun industry. A veto to the oil industry. For generations, racist senators took advantage of the filibuster to block anti-lynching laws and civil rights bills. And it’s still blocking progress today.” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
  • “All Americans, whether or not they’re in the majority, deserve to be represented. But it’s particularly important when you consider that our country is pretty evenly split down the middle. While the advantage sometimes goes to Democrats and sometimes to Republicans, the truth is that our country is pretty evenly split. Which means any attempt to disenfranchise the minority party means disenfranchising half the country.” – Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)
  • “[Biden’s] preference is not to end the filibuster. He wants to work with Republicans, to work with independents. He believes that we’re stronger when we build a broad coalition of support.” – Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director

What We’re Reading