Biden to hold first Cabinet meeting amid infrastructure push
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)WASHINGTON – Joe Biden will convene his first Cabinet meeting on Thursday, a presidential rite of passage that will be used to promote his new infrastructure plan. Ad“The meetings can help align priorities, build morale, and allow Cabinet members to develop relationships with colleagues who they don’t normally see,” Lu said. The White House has highlighted that this Cabinet is the most diverse in history. In normal times, scheduling an in-person Cabinet meeting would require weeks, if not months, of planning to block off time in the travel schedules of the various principals. The Cabinet members will soon begin to fan out across the country to pitch both the COVID-19 relief and infrastructure plans, officials said.
Senators back off vow to withhold support of Biden nominees
The only senators of Asian American heritage, they said they would withhold their support for his nominees until the diversity issue was addressed. AdDuckworth had said earlier that she raised the issue with top Biden advisers on Tuesday and afterward called the situation “not acceptable." “I’ve been talking to them for months and they’re still not aggressive, so I’m not going to be voting for any nominee from the White House other than diversity nominees,” Duckworth told reporters. But Hirono later said in a statement of her own that she too welcomed the appointment of an AAPI White House liaison and was dropping her objections. Tai, who was confirmed last week, is the first Asian American and first woman of color to serve as U.S. trade representative.
Biden Cabinet near complete but hundreds of jobs still open
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s Cabinet is nearly complete with the confirmation of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. A panel will also vote on advancing the nomination of Polly Ellen Trottenberg to be deputy secretary of transportation. And even as the Biden administration moves through picking nominees, there's no guarantee they'll all receive a smooth confirmation. And some of the deputies have become political footballs for Republicans looking to score concessions from the Biden administration. Cruz continues to hold up Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, until sanctions are imposed.
Biden Cabinet near complete but hundreds of jobs still open
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s Cabinet is nearly complete with the confirmation of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on Monday. A panel will also vote on advancing the nomination of Polly Ellen Trottenberg to be deputy secretary of Transportation. And even as the Biden administration moves through picking nominees, there's no guarantee they'll all receive a smooth confirmation. And some of the deputies have become political footballs for Republicans looking to score concessions from the Biden administration. Cruz continues to hold up Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, until sanctions are imposed.
Manchin, key Senate swing vote, boosts West Virginia's hopes
Scott Applewhite, File)CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia has long proclaimed itself “Almost Heaven,” a nod to a song and soaring mountaintop vistas. But Manchin, who grew up in the mountain town of Farmington, has emerged as a key swing vote in a divided Senate. Not since Robert Byrd’s death in 2010 has a senator from West Virginia wielded this much influence. With his centrist instincts in such a red state, Manchin has occasionally been the subject of rumors he'll switch parties. “We're hoping Senator Manchin remembers that he represents some of the poorest people in this country,” Kerner said.
Collins to back Haaland for Interior, sealing her approval
The announcement makes Haaland's confirmation by the Senate nearly certain and follows Haaland's endorsement last week by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Manchin, a moderate from West Virginia, had been publicly undecided through two days of hearings on Haaland’s nomination by President Joe Biden. Collins said she also appreciated Haaland’s support on issues important to Maine, such as Acadia National Park, “as well as her deep knowledge of tribal issues, which has earned her the support of tribes across the country, including those in Maine.'' Interior oversees the nation's public lands and waters and leads relations with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes. AdThe Senate energy panel is set to vote on Haaland's nomination Thursday.
Biden's Cabinet half-empty after slow start in confirmations
Also pictured is Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second from right, and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, third from right. Among Biden’s 23 nominees with Cabinet rank, just 13 have been confirmed by the Senate, or a little over half. On Tuesday, Biden's Cabinet was thrown into further uncertainty when his nominee to lead the White House budget office, Neera Tanden, withdrew from consideration after her nomination faced opposition from key senators on both sides of the aisle. That must change.”The Biden administration has prioritized confirming those nominees who are key to national security, the economy and public health decisions. The Biden administration has not been completely hamstrung by the slow pace of confirmations, however.
Budget nominee Tanden withdraws nomination amid opposition
Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden's nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), appears beofre a Senate Committee on the Budget hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden's pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, has withdrawn her nomination after she faced opposition from key Democratic and Republican senators for her controversial tweets. Thirteen of the 23 Cabinet nominees requiring Senate approval have been confirmed, most with strong bipartisan support. But without Manchin’s support, the White House was left scrambling to find a Republican to support her. White House chief of staff Ron Klain initially insisted the administration was “fighting our guts out” for her.
Biden's Cabinet half-empty after slow start in confirmations
Also pictured is Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second from right, and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, third from right. Among Biden’s 23 nominees with Cabinet rank, just 13 have been confirmed by the Senate, or a little over half. On Tuesday, Biden's cabinet was thrown into further uncertainty when his nominee to lead the White House budget office, Neera Tanden, withdrew from consideration after her nomination faced opposition from key senators on both sides of the aisle. That must change.”The Biden administration has prioritized confirming those nominees who are key to national security, the economy and public health decisions. The Biden administration has not been completely hamstrung by the slow pace of confirmations, however.
Yellen's encore: Lending economic heft to Biden's virus plan
“Yellen is uniquely poised," said Brian Deese, director of Biden’s National Economic Council. "She has as much experience and expertise of addressing the challenges of our time as any living economic policymaker today. AdYellen juggled parenting with her work as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in the 1980s, helping to build her son’s pinewood derby car as a colleague fed economic data into a computer. It’s an argument cultivated from years of research that fully blossomed during Yellen’s time as Fed chair. She said Yellen values differences of opinion and diversity because that helps her get a fuller sense of the economy.
Native American nominee's grilling raises questions on bias
The label of Haaland as a "radical" by Republican lawmakers is getting pushback from Native Americans. The exchange, coupled with descriptions of the Interior secretary nominee as “radical” — by other white, male Republicans — left some feeling Haaland is being treated differently because she is a Native American woman. “As much as I would love to see a Native American be on the president’s Cabinet, I have concerns about her record. Critics also have targeted Vanita Gupta, an Indian American and Biden’s pick to be associate attorney general, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Health and Human Services secretary. That was seen in Haaland's response when asked about her motivation to be Interior secretary.
Manchin says he'll vote for Haaland for interior secretary
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the nomination of Rep. Debra Haaland, D-N.M., to be Secretary of the Interior on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Manchin, a moderate from West Virginia, had been publicly undecided through two days of hearings on Haaland's nomination by President Joe Biden. By contrast, Manchin said Haaland had earned his vote, despite disagreements over drilling on federal lands and the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Ad“I believe Deb Haaland will be a secretary of the Interior for every American and will vote to confirm her,'' Manchin said in a statement. Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican who is not on the energy panel, called Haaland “a neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whack job.''
Biden choice for budget chief faces new hurdles in Congress
Without Manchin’s support, the White House has been left scrambling to find a Republican to support her. The Biden White House did not give advance notice of her planned nomination to Sanders, according to a person familiar with the process. And multiple Republican Senate aides said contact from the White House concerning Tanden’s nomination in recent days had been minimal. A person familiar with the discussion said House Democratic leadership has backed Young for the job. She is the daughter of immigrants from India and would be the first woman of color to lead the White House budget office.
A look at how Biden's Cabinet nominees fared Tuesday
(Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden's Cabinet is starting to fill out, with nominees for agriculture secretary and United Nations ambassador gaining Senate approval Tuesday. “And that’s what we intend to do.”Schumer couldn’t resist a jab at former President Donald Trump, saying that all Biden’s nominees are “undoubtedly qualified for their positions, a stark departure from the caliber of nominees the Senate was made to consider during the previous administration.”But one of Biden's nominees, Neera Tanden to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, is clearly in trouble in the evenly divided Senate. Currently California's attorney general, Becerra appeared Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “I'm not sold yet,” Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the ranking Republican on the health committee, said, addressing Becerra. ___INTERIORRep. Deb Haaland, Biden's nominee to lead the Interior Department, fielded sharp questions from Republicans over what some called her “radical” ideas that include opposition to fracking and to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Interior nominee Haaland questioned on drilling, pipelines
If confirmed, Haaland, 60, would be the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The Interior Department has broad oversight over nearly 600 federally recognized tribes as well as energy development and other uses for the nation’s sprawling federal lands. AdIf confirmed as Interior secretary, "you will get to have it your way,'' Daines told Haaland. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said the GOP questions over oil drilling and pipelines revealed a partisan divide in the committee. Her mother is a Navy veteran and worked for a quarter-century at the Bureau of Indian Education, an Interior Department agency.
Centrist Democrats flex muscles, create headaches for Biden
He can send the White House into a tailspin with a single five-minute interview or three-sentence statement. With a 50-50 split in the Senate leaving little room for error on tough votes, other moderate Democrats like Sens. He received a call from the White House shortly after his complaint to try to smooth things over. AdThe White House shares those political concerns. Their significance to the final vote on the COVID-19 bill means some moderates are already getting extra attention from the White House.
Interior nominee Haaland vows 'balance' on energy, climate
Native Americans have reason to believe the two-term U.S. congresswoman will push forward on long-simmering issues in Indian Country if she's confirmed as secretary of the Interior Department. Deb Haaland, a New Mexico congresswoman named to lead the Interior Department, said she is committed to “strike the right balance” as the agency manages energy development and seeks to restore and protect the nation's sprawling federal lands. Haaland's remarks are intended to rebut criticism from some Republicans who have complained that her opposition to drilling on federal lands will cost thousands of jobs and harm economies throughout the West. The Interior Department has broad oversight of tribal affairs and energy development. Her mother is a Navy veteran and worked for a quarter-century at the Bureau of Indian Education, an Interior Department agency.
Key senators oppose Biden budget pick, confirmation at risk
Collins, a moderate Republican, is joining Manchin, a moderate Democrat, in opposition to confirming Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden's nominee for budget director. During her confirmation hearings, Tanden apologized for her prolific attacks against top Republicans on social media. The Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to vote on Tanden’s nomination this week. Republicans have signaled that Tanden's confirmation process may trigger a political battle unseen with other Biden nominees, given her history of criticism of GOP lawmakers she’d now have to work with. Biden, asked Friday whether he would pull Tanden’s nomination, said he wouldn’t.
White House budget chief nominee apologizes for past tweets
Neera Tanden also admitted to spending “many months” removing past Twitter posts, saying, “I deleted tweets because I regretted them." He said that included Tanden calling Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton "a fraud” and tweeting that “vampires have more heart” than Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford said Tanden had tweeted more over the past four years than even Trump did. Still, Senate discussion of Tanden's nomination is likely to center more on her past tweets than her budget priorities. Cotton has said they were “filled with hate.” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn suggested previously that she'd face “certainly a problematic path” to nomination.
What Biden can and can't get from an evenly divided Senate
Scott Applewhite, File)WASHINGTON – So what does a 50-50 Senate get President-elect Joe Biden? Washington has barely had time to process the implications of Democratic control after two Georgia runoff elections that are delivering the Senate to Democrats. Hours after the races were decided, a mob of zealots ransacked the U.S. Capitol and reshaped the national and political landscape. Biden could use this so-called budget reconciliation process to pass more controversial elements of COVID-19 relief with only Democratic votes, repeal some of Trump's tax cuts or make federal health care programs more generous, for example. PROGRESSIVE MESSAGING PRIORITIESA 50-50 Democratic Senate and bare control of the House grant virtually any individual Democrat the ability to gum up the works.
What Biden's Cabinet picks say about how he plans to govern
His Cabinet picks help demonstrate how he plans to deliver. Many have already begun meeting with interest groups and advocacy organizations, and his transition team has had what’s been described as an “open-door policy” toward advocacy groups for months. It’s a sharp contrast to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, which was dominated largely by white men with little experience in Washington. Biden’s aides say that was one of the goals he set in filling out his Cabinet: to signal that his presidency means a return to competent, stable leadership government. While Salguero recalled meetings with the Trump administration on key issues, he said the Biden transition team’s outreach already has gone further.
Transition stumbles test Biden's bond with Capitol Hill
FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2020, file photo, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, of S.C., speaks during a news conference about COVID-19, on Capitol Hill in Washington. President-elect Joe Biden brings more Capitol Hill experience than any president in decades. Biden's team swiftly adjusted, introducing Black, Latino and Asian American nominees as the president-elect vows to build the most diverse administration in history. Biden’s team incensed Hispanic and Asian and Pacific American lawmakers with its handling of Cabinet choices from their communities. “Democrats are always lecturing Republican senators about approving future Biden Cabinet nominees even if we don’t agree with them,” Grassley said.
Biden's challenge: Building Cabinet that meets all his goals
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)WASHINGTON – Shortly after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory last month, Cabinet hopeful Marcia Fudge pointedly noted that Black people are often typecast into positions such as housing secretary. He’s pledged to nominate the most diverse Cabinet in history and restore experience at beleaguered federal agencies. The GOP has barely acknowledged Biden's victory so the cooperation of its senators in the confirmation process is far from certain. “That’s why we are worried.”One prominent feature of Biden’s picks so far: deep ties to the Obama administration. Brent Colburn, a former Obama administration official who served in several agencies, encouraged Democrats to consider the bigger picture as they judge Biden's Cabinet.
Becerra's big challenge: Vaccinating Americans against virus
As California's attorney general, Becerra leads the nation's largest state justice department, an influential perch from which he's fought Republican efforts to roll back health coverage. Becerra, 62, tweeted Monday that in Congress he helped pass the Affordable Care Act and as California’s attorney general he has defended it. “As Secretary of Health and Human Services, I will build on our progress and ensure every American has access to quality, affordable health care — through this pandemic and beyond,” he wrote. Defending California’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act was a key priority, but he also focused on protecting young immigrants from deportation and defending California’s climate change laws. As attorney general, Becerra helped lead a coalition of fellow state attorneys general who sued over the Trump administration’s child separation policies.
Biden's pick to head OMB brings experience, Twitter enemies
Some progressives, meanwhile, see Tanden's nomination as a test of whether the left will challenge Biden, who ran as a moderate, over funding for social programs. Sanders has not commented publicly on Tanden's nomination, but other liberal senators including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio have expressed their support. Friends and allies say that the fuss over her online persona is a distraction from her credentials and deep experience with large-scale policy making. Tanden, 50, has said her values reflect personal experience with the government programs she would play a key role in supporting. The first wave of Republican criticism of Tanden mentioned none of her professional or personal experience, instead focusing on her aggressive Twitter hand.
GOP objects to Biden nominees, a sign of what's to come
Under leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican senators will hold great sway in confirming Biden’s nominees regardless of which party holds the majority after runoff elections in January. He scoffed at Republicans for complaining about Tanden’s penchant for sharp tweets after four years of Trump’s endless Twitter barbs that GOP senators often tried to ignore. “After what all we went through over the past four years, I would expect that almost all of President-elect Biden’s nominees would be widely acceptable,” Schumer said from the Senate floor. Instead, he's letting other Senate Republicans, particularly those seen as having White House ambitions, make names for themselves. McConnell gave a nod toward what's ahead after GOP senators met Tuesday by conference call, forced to abandon their traditional sit-down lunches as the COVID-19 crisis surges and threatens to further disrupt the Capitol.
The Latest: Biden inaugural committee limits donors to $500K
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)WASHINGTON – The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):2:10 p.m. The committee raising money for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will take contributions from individual donors of as much as $500,000 and from corporations of as much as $1 million. The contribution limits for Biden are far lower than those of President Donald Trump in 2017. Neera Tanden would help prepare Biden’s federal budgets as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Biden also introduced Neera Tanden as his choice to run the White House budget office.
Biden names liberal econ team as pandemic threatens workers
– With unemployment still high and the pandemic threatening yet another economic slump, President-elect Joe Biden is assembling a team of liberal advisers who have long focused on the nation’s workers and government efforts to address economic inequality. Biden also selected Wally Adeyemo to be Yellen’s deputy, which would make him the first Black deputy treasury secretary. “They’re fairly conventional liberal economists and experts.”Still, the Biden administration’s ambitious goals will face solid opposition from Republicans in Congress. She first made her mark in the Clinton orbit, and served as policy director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential race. Bernstein has also worked as a social worker and was an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-supported think tank.
Political fight brewing over Biden's WH budget chief nominee
– President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget is quickly emerging as a political battle that could disrupt his efforts to swiftly fill out his administration. He called her “maybe (Biden's) worst nominee so far" and “radioactive.”Potential Budget Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was less hostile, telling reporters, “Let's see what happens." But like all of Biden's nominees, Tanden has little margin for error as she faces confirmation in a closely divided Senate. At OMB, Tanden would be responsible for preparing Biden’s budget submission and would command several hundred budget analysts, economists and policy advisers with deep knowledge of the inner workings of the government. That would allow them to pass special budget legislation that could roll back Trump’s tax cuts, boost the Affordable Care Act and pursue other spending goals.
Biden names liberal econ team as pandemic threatens workers
Biden also selected Wally Adeyemo to be Yellen’s deputy, which would make him the first Black deputy treasury secretary. Rouse, Tanden and Adeyemo will all require Senate confirmation, and Tanden in particular is already drawing heavy Republican criticism. “They’re fairly conventional liberal economists and experts.”Still, the Biden administration’s ambitious goals will face solid opposition from Republicans in Congress. She first made her mark in the Clinton orbit, and served as policy director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential race. Bernstein has also worked as a social worker and was an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-supported think tank.
Biden chooses an all-female senior White House press team
– President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, reflecting his stated desire to build out a diverse White House team as well as what’s expected to be a return to a more traditional press operation. Biden campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield will serve as Biden’s White House communications director. Four of the seven top communications roles at the White House will be filled by women of color, and it’s the first time the entire senior White House communications team will be entirely female. Trump himself sometimes served as his own press secretary, taking questions from the media, and he often bypassed the White House press corps entirely by dialing into his favorite Fox News shows. — Pili Tobar, who was communications director for coalitions on Biden’s campaign, will be his deputy White House communications director.