Two Republican senators criticized President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet choices, suggesting they might try to block the nomination process after the nomination in January.
In tweets Sunday, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas denounced Biden’s potential choices for Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security and Director of the management and budget office.
Cornyn tweeted that the Senate was “under no obligation to confirm anyone” as he referred to the financial industry ties of some of the candidates.
And Cotton wrote, “Biden said he wanted to unify the country. But he chose a national security team that is weak on China, a DHS candidate who sold visas for powerful political friends, and a partisan hacker who called Susan Collins “the worst” for the OMB.
“So much for unity.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas tweeted on Sunday that Joe Biden had put forward “weak” and “partisan” candidates who question the president-elect’s commitment to “unify” the country
President-elect Biden’s national security team
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State
Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Internal Security
Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor
John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
Cotton’s reference to a DHS candidate “who sold visas” refers to Alejandro Mayorkas, who was President Barack Obama’s assistant secretary of homeland security during his second term.
While assuming this role, he used his position to help foreign investors who were linked to Top Democrats with the EB-5 visa program, an inspector general report found in 2015, Fox News reported.
And his reference to a choice of “partisan hacking” refers to Neera Tanden, who was announced on Sunday as Biden’s pick for OMB director.
She is president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and is considered a Hillary Clinton loyalist.
She maintains a combative presence on Twitter, hitting both right and left and occasionally scarring the employers of her opponents.
Tanden infuriated Senator Collins from Maine online in 2018, calling her “the worst” after Collins claimed not to understand the importance of Brett Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook entries as justice was being confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court.
Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn (left) reminded Biden that the Senate, which is likely Republican-controlled, is not required to confirm its nominees, while Cotton (right) listed potential vulnerabilities of choices announced by Biden.
Tony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of state, said at a September event hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce that it was “unrealistic” for the United States to completely disassociate itself from China.
Blinken was one of the unnamed subjects of a Cornyn tweet thread, which began when he ran a New York Times article that examined several Biden candidates’ connections to consulting and financial firms.
Cornyn cited a New York Times article on Sunday that explored the connections to the finance and consulting industries of two of Biden’s firm choices
Cornyn appeared to demand that Biden’s cabinet choices fully disclose all of their clients or risk being rejected by the Senate
‘Sir. Biden’s transition office shut down before saying all clients would be disclosed – and ethics rules allow new federal officials to withhold client identities if agreements are subject to confidentiality agreements Cornyn quoted from the article.
‘Maybe, maybe not. But the Senate is not obligated to confirm anyone who hides this information, ”Cornyn wrote in a follow-up post.
Blinken and Michèle A. Flournoy, shortlisted for the post of Secretary of Defense, are both founders of the consulting firm WestExec Advisors. They both advised Pine Island Capital.
Ethics watchers warn that officials can craft U.S. policy to benefit former clients, and it becomes easier and more pernicious if those clients are not known to the public.
Alejandro Mayorkas (left) used his position to help foreign investors who were linked to Main Democrats with the EB-5 visa program, an inspector general report found in 2015. Neera Tanden (right), the candidate from Biden to the head of the Office of Management and Budget, in a 2018 tweet called Senator Susan Collins of Maine “the worst”
Barring a Democratic sweep of Georgia’s two second-round Senate elections in January, Biden’s party will be a minority in the Upper House, meaning at least some Republican membership will be needed to confirm the election. one of the choices of the new president’s cabinet.
Republican senators have often voted en bloc under Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
This suggests that a slim 52-48 or 51-49 Republican majority may be impenetrable for Biden if he tries to get even mainstream Democrats through the Senate confirmation process.
Republicans could demand a number of GOP candidates to lead cabinet departments. They could also exercise a right of veto over democratic choices they deem too partisan.
Tony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of state, and Michèle A. Flournoy, who is shortlisted for secretary of defense, are both founders of consulting firm WestExec Advisors. A spokesperson for Biden wouldn’t promise all his clients would be disclosed
Of course, President Trump has been able to lead the federal government without securing Senate confirmation for an unprecedented number of Senate confirmable positions.
Thirty-nine key positions in the 15 cabinet departments were never occupied by Trump towards the end of his term, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.
Instead, Trump has appointed “interim” officials to fill these roles.
President-elect Joe Biden faces the prospect of a Republican-controlled Senate if Democrats lose one or both Senate polls in Georgia in January, which could make it very difficult for him to confirm the cabinet nominees he wish.