Biden Team Urges Senate to Quickly Confirm National Security Nominees

January 14, 2021 Updated: January 14, 2021

Officials for Joe Biden’s transition team are urging the Senate to quickly confirm the president-elect’s national security team.

“Our national security is at stake as the United States fights its way out of this unprecedented public health crisis and historic economic downturn,” Andrew Bates, spokesman for the team, told Fox News. “And in the face of urgent threats, including more actions planned by violent extremists after the storming of the Capitol, we cannot afford gaps in national security leadership or more delays on the part of Senate Republicans.”

Democrats stalled hearings for most of Trump’s nominees four years ago and most nominees, apart from his defense secretary and Department of Homeland secretary picks, took days or weeks to confirm, but Biden hopes Republicans will move faster, especially in light of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.

Biden has announced his picks for all Cabinet positions, as well as a range of other roles. But the Senate could face a dilemma: The House of Representatives impeached Trump just seven days before he was due to leave office, setting up an impeachment trial in the upper chamber sometime in the future.

That could gum up plans from Senate Democrats to hear from and confirm Biden’s nominees, a key priority when Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) soon becomes majority leader.

Biden announced Wednesday night that he supports the impeachment but called on the Senate to take time to address other matters.

Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on Jan. 8, 2021. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

“This nation also remains in the grip of a deadly virus and a reeling economy. I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation,” he said in a statement.

“From confirmations to key posts such as secretaries for Homeland Security, State, Defense, Treasury, and Director of National Intelligence, to getting our vaccine program on track, and to getting our economy going again. Too many of our fellow Americans have suffered for too long over the past year to delay this urgent work.”

Biden had previously suggested the Senate spend half of each day on the trial and the other half hearing from and confirming his nominees.

For now, Republicans remain in control of the Senate. It’s officially out of session until Jan. 19, though the Senate Intelligence Committee will convene on Jan. 15 to hear from Biden’s Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines.

The Senate Finance and Foreign Relations committees also have hearings planned for Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen and Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken.

For Biden’s team, that’s not enough.

“While a few hearings have now been scheduled, the American people deserve assurances that swift floor votes will follow,” Bates told Fox. “Progress toward confirmations still lags significantly behind where it was at this point during the last two presidential transitions, and it is essential that key national security and economic leaders are confirmed and in place on day one.”

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