by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
More than two-thirds of President Biden’s Cabinet nominees are stuck in a procedural bottleneck as they wait to be considered by the Democratic-run chamber.
Biden was sworn into office with more nominees ready to go than any of his recent predecessors. But only seven of his 23 Cabinet-level officials have been Senate-confirmed one month into his administration. Another handful of picks have cleared their respective Senate committees; they’re simply waiting to receive a full-floor vote in the chamber. And more have hearings scheduled for next week.
But as the new White House takes over the country’s coronavirus pandemic without a Health and Human Services secretary or a confirmed head of the Education Department, the Senate last week was not in legislative session. Instead, senators took a weeklong break from floor activity and committee work after acting as jurors during former President Donald Trump’s second unsuccessful impeachment trial. The chamber annually takes five business days off, starting with Presidents Day, but the majority leader, in this case, Democrat Chuck Schumer, can alter those plans. He did not.
Biden aides tasked with shepherding the president’s nominees through their confirmations appear to becoming increasingly anxious over the delays.
“Timely confirmation of the President’s deeply qualified and crisis-tested nominees is more critical than ever to defeating the pandemic, putting the American people back to work, ensuring families have food on the table, and re-opening our schools,” Biden transition spokesman Andrew Bates told the Washington Examiner. “We continue to work with both parties in good faith towards that end.” …
… Biden’s progress falls short of his predecessors’ first months in office.
Trump’s nominees, for instance, experienced a median wait time of 25 days between their nomination, a Senate vote, or a withdrawal; two were confirmed on Inauguration Day.