Senate begins confirmation hearings for Biden administration nominees
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The Senate will begin confirmation hearings on Tuesday for President-elect Joe Biden’s nominees to serve in top administration posts, including those selected to lead the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments as well as Treasury secretary.
While the process isn’t expected to be completed by the time Biden takes the oath of office at his inauguration on Wednesday, many of his Cabinet could be confirmed in the next few days.
Anthony Blinken, the secretary of state nominee, will tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he will work to reassure allies that America has their back and will counter challenges posed by Russia, China and Iran.
“When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values. Or no one does, and then you get chaos,” Blinken will say, Reuters reported, citing his prepared remarks.
“Either way, that does not serve the American people,” Blinken will say.
He will also note how the world has changed since Biden was former President Barack Obama’s vice president four years ago.
“We’ll engage the world not as it was, but as it is. A world of rising nationalism, receding democracy, growing rivalry with China, Russia, and other authoritarian states, mounting threats to a stable and open international system, and a technological revolution that is reshaping every aspect of our lives, especially in cyberspace,” Blinken will say.
The nominee expected to have the most difficult time is retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, the nominee for Defense secretary.
To be able to take the job, he must secure a waiver from Congress.
Austin, who will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee, has only been retired for four years, but the 1947 National Security Act requires that active military personnel be out of uniform for seven years.
Jim Mattis, President Trump’s first Defense secretary, received a waiver in 2017.
The last time a president took office without a Defense secretary confirmed was in 1989 when President George H.W. Bush’s nominee John Tower was rejected by the Senate over allegations of excess drinking.
Janet Yellen, the former Fed Reserve chair, will appear before the Senate Finance Committee where she is expected to be grilled over Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan.
“Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now — and long-term scarring of the economy later,” Yellen will say in prepared testimony, according to the Associated Press.
“Right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big,” because “the benefits will far outweigh the costs,” she will say.
Alejandro Mayorkas, nominated to head up Homeland Security, will testify before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and Avril Haines, the nominee for director of National Intelligence, will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“To be effective, the DNI must never shy away from speaking truth to power — even, especially, when doing so may be inconvenient or difficult,” Haines, a former deputy CIA director, will say according to her prepared remarks.
With Post wires
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