U.S. Politics – December 3, 2020
By: Nathaniel Ballantyne
Joe Biden is facing dueling headwinds as he looks to fill out his Cabinet: Senate Republicans want the President-elect to consult with them and choose nominees who could win their support, while liberal Democrats are pushing him to name progressives who could shape the policies of his government.
And Republicans, if they keep control of the chamber, are not committing to scheduling votes on nominees they consider out of the mainstream, nor are they vowing to quickly let Biden’s picks get confirmed in the first days of his administration despite the private and public lobbying by top Democrats.
What could delay deliberations further: President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede, coupled with Republicans’ reluctance to say Biden is the winner, meaning few them are ready to engage over the President-elect’s choices or hold courtesy meetings as Democrats are beginning to do.
As Biden moves quickly to fill key slots — ranging from health to education to defense — lawmakers are warning who they would accept and who they wouldn’t.
“I think he has made some very good choices,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, told CNN on Wednesday. “I’d like to see some strong progressives on the team.” Others made clear that Biden should make bolder picks if their party wins the two Georgia Senate races in January and takes control of the chamber.
“If we win the Senate, then I do think the administration should be open to more aggressive appointments or rather appointments who would support a more aggressive agenda to help working families,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, warning Biden not to name nominees with “an austerity mindset.”
“I think it’s one of the most simply damaging things that could happen to the Democratic Party that would absolutely imperil us in 2022 is if we had a bunch of austerity people, or an austerity strategy and austerity mindset,” the New York Democrat told CNN.
Biden has a complicated balancing act by seeking to appease the left while dealing with Republicans in the Senate who are likely to resist many of his nominees — like Neera Tanden, the head of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, who was chosen by Biden to serve as the next White House budget director. Her nomination has sparked the ire of Republicans, many of whom she has attacked on Twitter over the years, warning Biden not to name future nominees to positions with a similar ideological bent.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the Senate majority whip, said that pushback from the GOP over the Tanden pick should be “a warning signal” to Biden — especially if Republicans win one of the two Georgia runoff races that would ensure they hold the majority in the new Congress. (CNN).–
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