WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s Cupboard is beginning to fill out, with nominees for agriculture secretary and United Nations ambassador gaining Senate approval Tuesday.
Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer says he intends to wrap up the remaining nomination votes rapidly.
“At a time of acute nationwide problem, we want certified leaders atop our federal companies — and quick,” he stated Tuesday on the Senate ground. “And that’s what we intend to do.”
Schumer couldn’t resist a jab at former President Donald Trump, saying that each one Biden’s nominees are “undoubtedly certified for his or her positions, a stark departure from the calibre of nominees the Senate was made to think about in the course of the earlier administration.”
However considered one of Biden’s nominees, Neera Tanden to steer the White Home Workplace of Administration and Funds, is clearly in bother within the evenly divided Senate. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has stated he opposes her affirmation.
Right here’s what occurred Tuesday:
The Senate voted 78-20 to approve profession diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations Ambassador, a Cupboard-level place. A 35-year overseas service veteran who resigned in the course of the Trump administration, Thomas-Greenfield must tackle a number of worldwide relationships that have been altered by Trump’s erratic and isolationist model.
“This affirmation sends a message that the USA is again and that our overseas service is again,” stated Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a Home Overseas Affairs subcommittee on Africa, international well being and international human rights. “We as a rustic and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the USA ambassador to the United Nations.”
Throughout affirmation hearings, Thomas-Greenfield confronted some criticism from Senate Republicans who labeled her delicate on China, citing a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese language-funded Confucius Institute by which she praised China’s large infrastructure and affect program in Africa.
She stated the speech had been a mistake and was not meant to be an endorsement of Chinese language authorities insurance policies. She stated of China, “They’re a menace to their neighbours, and they’re a menace throughout the globe.”
The Senate voted 92-7 to verify Tom Vilsack for a return engagement as agriculture secretary.
The previous Iowa governor spent eight years main the identical division below former President Barack Obama.
In his testimony, Vilsack, 70, closely endorsed boosting climate-friendly agricultural industries such because the creation of biofuels, saying, “Agriculture is considered one of our first and greatest methods to get some wins on this local weather space.”
Vilsack obtained minimal pushback or criticism throughout affirmation hearings. One of many few “no” votes got here from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an unbiased who caucuses with the Democrats. Sanders stated he would have favored “any person a bit bit extra vigorous when it comes to defending household farms and taking up company agriculture.”
Vilsack additionally closely backed the Supplemental Vitamin Help Program — generally often called meals stamps, or SNAP — as a key instrument in serving to the nation’s most weak households survive and get better from the coronavirus pandemic. His Trump-era predecessor, Sonny Perdue, had sought to purge lots of of 1000’s of individuals from the SNAP-recipient lists.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Well being and Human Companies nominee Xavier Becerra advised senators that “robust federal management” was wanted to confront the coronavirus pandemic. He additionally pledged to work to increase medical health insurance protection, curb prescription drug prices and cut back racial and ethnic disparities in medical care.
At the moment California’s legal professional normal, Becerra appeared Tuesday earlier than the Senate Well being, Schooling, Labor and Pensions Committee. He has a second affirmation listening to Wednesday earlier than the Finance Committee, which is able to vote on sending his nomination to the Senate ground.
On Tuesday, he pledged to work to increase the Obama-era Reasonably priced Care Act, although he’s beforehand supported a government-run system like “Medicare for All.”
Though Democrats have backed Becerra, Republican opposition has grown louder.
“I’m not offered but,” Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the rating Republican on the well being committee, stated, addressing Becerra. “I’m unsure that you’ve the mandatory expertise or expertise to do that job at this second.”
Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has referred to as Becerra “famously partisan.” As California legal professional normal, Becerra filed 124 lawsuits challenged Trump administration actions.
Rep. Deb Haaland, Biden’s nominee to steer the Inside Division, fielded sharp questions from Republicans over what some referred to as her “radical” concepts that embrace opposition to fracking and to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The New Mexico congresswoman stated she was decided to “strike the correct steadiness” between conserving public lands and vitality growth. If confirmed, Haaland, 60, can be the primary Native American to steer a Cupboard company.
Haaland’s listening to centred on her and Biden’s intentions relating to the way forward for fossil fuels. Her listening to earlier than the Senate Power and Pure Assets Committee was adjourned after practically 2 1/2 hours and can resume Wednesday.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., displayed a big chart that includes a quote from Haaland final November, earlier than she was chosen as Biden’s nominee. She stated then: “If I had my means, it’d be nice to cease all gasoline and oil leasing on federal and public lands.”
Manchin, the panel’s chair and a Democrat from coal-dependent West Virginia, has stated he’s undecided on Haaland’s nomination.
In response to questions from Manchin and others, Haaland stated the U.S. will proceed to depend on fossil fuels equivalent to oil and pure gasoline even because it strikes towards Biden’s purpose of web zero carbon emissions by mid-century. The transition to scrub vitality “is just not going to occur in a single day,” she stated.
Related Press writers Matthew Lee, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.
Ashraf Khalil, The Related Press