A week after Biden officially took office as President of the United States, the confirmation of his cabinet nomination is still slow.
January 26th local time, the U.S. Senate confirmed Anthony Blinkincoln as Secretary of State by 78 votes to 22 against, and Blinkincoln became the fourth cabinet member confirmed by the Senate.
Previously, the Senate also voted to approve Biden’s nominations for the Director of National Intelligence, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Treasury.
A large number of important cabinet positions are still vacant, although Biden repeatedly stressed that he hopes that the Senate can balance matters and advance the confirmation of cabinet nominations and other legislative matters in an orderly manner.
However, for now, the Senate is indeed “incompetent”.
Without comparison, there is no harm.
Biden still lacks permanent officials in key departments such as the Justice Department, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, not to mention a large number of government deputy positions that need Senate approval, according to the Capitol Hill.
Compared with the speed of cabinet nomination confirmation of previous presidents, Biden’s cabinet was indeed too slow to form.
According to NPR, although it takes months to form a full cabinet, former President George W. Bush and Clinton both formed their own core cabinets in relatively short time.
On the day of inauguration, George W. Bush confirmed seven cabinet nominations and Obama’s six nominations, while only Evril Haynes’ nomination as Director of National Intelligence was confirmed on the day of Biden’s inauguration.
Catherine Tampas, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, pointed out that there are about 4,000 positions in government departments that require political appointments, of which between 1,200 and 1,300 job appointments require Senate approval.
The current situation is that a large number of departments lack senior leaders, which limits the implementation capacity of departments and makes it difficult to make long-term planning. Biden can only arrange acting leaders in different departments so that the agency can function properly.
The impact of delaying the transition of power is beginning to appear.
On November 23, 2020, local time, the U.S. General Administration (GSA) officially confirmed Biden as the “obvious winner” of the 2020 presidential election, informing the Biden team that the transition process can be launched.
At that time, nearly three weeks had passed since various American media reported that Biden won the election.
Analysts pointed out that the General Administration’s failure to confirm Biden’s victory in time due to Trump’s doubts about the election results has affected the process of confirming officials.
Under U.S. federal law, the FBI can only cooperate with the incoming new government to conduct background checks on nominated officials after the formal confirmation of the General Administration.
In addition, in some cases, the cumbersome paperwork of some late nominations of officials has also led to the suspension of the confirmation process.
Senate Intelligence Committee aide said that senators are waiting for documents related to the appointment of William Burns as the director of the CIA.
Aides to the Senate Judiciary Committee also said that the document appointing Merrick Garland as Attorney General has not yet received a response.
In addition to external reasons, there is also a “suit” within the Senate, which hinders the confirmation process of cabinet nominations.
According to NBC, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have been difficult to agree on how the Senate should function in the future.
At present, the two parties divide 100 seats equally in the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Vice President Harris, will cast a key vote.
Previously, Democratic senators discussed within the abolition of the 60-vote threshold for passing the bill – a rule also known as “blocking proceedings”.
The move caused great dissatisfaction from McConnell, who said he hoped that Democrats would promise to retain “obstruction” in exchange for a transfer of control of the Senate committee.
However, Democrats, including Schumer, said that continuing to maintain “obstruction” will put the Senate deadlock.
McConnell announced concessions after two Democratic senators publicly said they would not vote for canceling the “blocking proceedings”.
On January 25th local time, McConnell issued a statement saying that they planned to follow the agreement reached by the Senate in 2001 that the two parties have the same number of committee seats, but allow the majority to break the deadlock.
The power-sharing agreement in the Senate has finally been pushed forward.
Once Democrats have control of the committee, the nominations in the cabinet may go on faster, according to the Capitol Hill.
However, the Senate will also prepare for the trial of Trump’s impeachment in the next two weeks and negotiate with Biden on the $1.9 trillion rescue bill.
All of these would take up time for senators to confirm Biden’s cabinet nomination.
January 26th, local time, Schumer once again expressed his confidence that the Senate can balance all kinds of work.” As I’ve been saying, the Senate can handle three things at once, and this week we’ll confirm more appointments, prepare for a fair trial, and provide emergency coronavirus relief to the public.”