Schumer couldn’t resist a jab at former President Donald Trump, saying that every one Biden’s nominees are “undoubtedly qualified for their positions, a stark departure from the caliber of nominees the Senate was made to consider during the previous administration.”
But one in every of Biden’s nominees, Neera Tanden to guide the White House Office of Management and Budget, is clearly in hassle within the evenly divided Senate. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has mentioned he opposes her affirmation.
Here’s what occurred Tuesday:
The Senate voted 78-20 to approve profession diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations Ambassador, a Cabinet-level place. A 35-year international service veteran who resigned through the Trump administration, Thomas-Greenfield must deal with a number of worldwide relationships that have been altered by Trump’s erratic and isolationist fashion.
“This confirmation sends a message that the United States is back and that our foreign service is back,” mentioned Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., who chairs a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, international well being and international human rights. “We as a country and as a world are safer with Linda Thomas-Greenfield serving as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.”
During 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-funded Confucius Institute through which she praised China’s huge infrastructure and affect program in Africa.
She mentioned the speech had been a mistake and was not meant to be an endorsement of Chinese authorities insurance policies. She mentioned of China, “They are a threat to their neighbors, and they are a threat across the globe.”
The Senate voted 92-7 to verify Tom Vilsack for a return engagement as agriculture secretary.
The former Iowa governor spent eight years main the identical division underneath 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 of our first and best ways to get some wins in this climate area.”
Vilsack acquired minimal pushback or criticism throughout affirmation hearings. One of the few “no” votes got here from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an unbiased who caucuses with the Democrats. Sanders mentioned he would have preferred “somebody a little bit more vigorous in terms of protecting family farms and taking on corporate agriculture.”
Vilsack additionally closely backed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — generally referred to as 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 a whole lot of hundreds of individuals from the SNAP-recipient lists.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Health and Human Services nominee Xavier Becerra informed senators that “strong federal leadership” was wanted to confront the coronavirus pandemic. He additionally pledged to work to increase medical insurance protection, curb prescription drug prices and cut back racial and ethnic disparities in medical care.
Currently California’s lawyer normal, Becerra appeared Tuesday earlier than the Senate Health, Education, 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 flooring.
On Tuesday, he pledged to work to increase the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, although he’s beforehand supported a government-run system like “Medicare for All.”
Although Democrats have backed Becerra, Republican opposition has grown louder.
“I’m not sold yet,” Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the rating Republican on the well being committee, mentioned, addressing Becerra. “I’m not sure that you have the necessary experience or skills to do this job at this moment.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has known as Becerra “famously partisan.” As California lawyer normal, Becerra filed 124 lawsuits challenged Trump administration actions.
Rep. Deb Haaland, Biden’s nominee to guide the Interior Department, 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 right balance” between conserving public lands and power growth. If confirmed, Haaland, 60, could be the primary Native American to guide a Cabinet company.
Haaland’s listening to centered on her and Biden’s intentions concerning the way forward for fossil fuels. Her listening to earlier than the Senate Energy and Natural Resources 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 mentioned then: “If I had my way, it’d be great to stop all gas 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 gasoline even because it strikes towards Biden’s aim of web zero carbon emissions by mid-century. The transition to wash power “is not going to happen overnight,” she mentioned.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.
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