WASHINGTON (AP) — 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’d like certified leaders atop our federal businesses — and quick,” he mentioned 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 every one Biden’s nominees are “undoubtedly certified for his or her positions, a stark departure from the caliber of nominees the Senate was made to think about throughout the earlier administration.”
However one in every of Biden’s nominees, Neera Tanden to guide the White Home Workplace of Administration and Funds, is clearly in hassle within the evenly divided Senate. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has mentioned he opposes her affirmation.
Here is 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 international service veteran who resigned throughout the Trump administration, Thomas-Greenfield must tackle a number of worldwide relationships that had been altered by Trump’s erratic and isolationist fashion.
“This affirmation sends a message that the US is again and that our international service is again,” mentioned Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a Home International Affairs subcommittee on Africa, world well being and world human rights. “We as a rustic and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the US ambassador to the United Nations.”
Throughout affirmation hearings, Thomas-Greenfield confronted some criticism from Senate Republicans who labeled her comfortable on China, citing a 2019 speech she gave to the Chinese language-funded Confucius Institute by which she praised China’s huge infrastructure and affect program in Africa.
She mentioned the speech had been a mistake and was not supposed to be an endorsement of Chinese language authorities insurance policies. She mentioned of China, “They’re a menace to their neighbors, and they’re a menace throughout the globe.”
The Senate voted 92-7 to substantiate Tom Vilsack for a return engagement as agriculture secretary.
The previous Iowa governor spent eight years main the identical division beneath 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 one in every 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 impartial who caucuses with the Democrats. Sanders mentioned he would have appreciated “someone somewhat bit extra vigorous when it comes to defending household farms and taking up company agriculture.”
Vilsack additionally closely backed the Supplemental Diet Help Program — generally referred to as meals stamps, or SNAP — as a key instrument in serving to the nation’s most susceptible households survive and recuperate from the coronavirus pandemic. His Trump-era predecessor, Sonny Perdue, had sought to purge a whole lot of 1000’s of individuals from the SNAP-recipient lists.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Well being and Human Providers nominee Xavier Becerra informed senators that “robust federal management” was wanted to confront the coronavirus pandemic. He additionally pledged to work to develop medical health insurance protection, curb prescription drug prices and scale back racial and ethnic disparities in medical care.
At present California’s legal professional common, Becerra appeared Tuesday earlier than the Senate Well being, Training, 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 develop the Obama-era Reasonably priced Care Act, although he is beforehand supported a government-run system like “Medicare for All.”
Though Democrats have backed Becerra, Republican opposition has grown louder.
“I am not bought but,” Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the rating Republican on the well being committee, mentioned, addressing Becerra. “I’m undecided that you’ve the required expertise or abilities to do that job at this second.”
Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has known as Becerra “famously partisan.” As California legal professional common, Becerra filed 124 lawsuits challenged Trump administration actions.
Rep. Deb Haaland, Biden’s nominee to guide the Inside Division, fielded sharp questions from Republicans over what some known as her “radical” concepts that embody opposition to fracking and to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The New Mexico congresswoman mentioned she was decided to “strike the appropriate stability” between conserving public lands and power growth. If confirmed, Haaland, 60, could be the primary Native American to guide a Cupboard company.
Haaland’s listening to centered on her and Biden’s intentions relating to the way forward for fossil fuels. Her listening to earlier than the Senate Vitality and Pure Assets Committee was adjourned after almost 2 half 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 mentioned then: “If I had my manner, it’d be nice to cease all fuel and oil leasing on federal and public lands.”
Manchin, the panel’s chair and a Democrat from coal-dependent West Virginia, has mentioned he’s undecided on Haaland’s nomination.
In response to questions from Manchin and others, Haaland mentioned the U.S. will proceed to depend on fossil fuels comparable to oil and pure fuel even because it strikes towards Biden’s objective of web zero carbon emissions by mid-century. The transition to scrub power “will not be going to occur in a single day,” she mentioned.
Related Press writers Matthew Lee, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.