Biden urges Senate to take up confirmation process for Cabinet picks

“To the American people, this team will make us proud to be Americans,” Biden said.

The path to confirmation for Biden’s nominees remains unclear as control of the Senate will be decided by two runoff elections in Georgia early next year. Senate Republicans thus far have exerted considerable caution not to run afoul of President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud by acknowledging Biden’s victory. Still, lawmakers including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have all suggested that the incoming president is entitled to a cabinet.

Cabinet selections for incoming presidents have historically been granted hearings in their relevant Senate committees ahead of Inauguration Day. Two of President Donald Trump’s original cabinet members, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, were confirmed on Trump’s inauguration day. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush had six and seven members of their original cabinets confirmed on inauguration day, respectively.

Each of the Biden nominees on stage Tuesday were given time to speak, and several took time to indirectly contrast themselves with their Trump administration counterparts.

To wit, Avril Haines, Biden’s designate for director of national intelligence, vowed to voice uncomfortable truths to Biden and other members of the administration. Tony Blinken, the secretary of state nominee, promised to renew America’s commitment to global alliances, as did Biden’s pick for United Nations envoy.

“Multilateralism is back,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the president-elect’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said.

Blinken also recounted his stepfather’s harrowing tale escaping death during the Holocaust, in which he emerged from a hiding place in the woods after fleeing Nazis to encounter a Black American solider who emerged from a tank.

“He got down on his knees and said the only three words he knew in English his mother taught him before the war: ‘God bless America,’” Blinken said. “That’s who we are. That’s what America represents to the world, however imperfectly.”