Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the coronavirus welfare bill will be his party’s top priority, but added that the recent violent assault on Capitol Hill shows the need to confirm the security team. President-elect Joe Biden’s national campaign on “day one” of the new government.
Miami World / AP
In a letter to his colleagues first shared with The Associated Press, Schumer reported Tuesday night that the deadly riots on Capitol Hill a week ago at the hands of a mob loyal to President Donald Trump were “one of the darkest days in all the history of the United States ”.
The insurrection of January 6 “showed us that we need qualified and confirmed people by the Senate (not in interim capacity) in key positions of national security” from day one, including the secretaries of Defense, National Security, State and Justice, among others, Schumer wrote.
“The economic challenges facing our nation also require that nominees for key economic positions be confirmed and on duty as soon as possible,” he added.
His words were part of a broader effort by Biden’s allies to push for swift confirmation of some of his top nominees.
The Senate usually confirms some candidates, especially the Secretaries of Defense, State and Treasury, on the day of the inauguration, although the moods that Trump aroused led Democrats to delay the process four years ago. This year it seems that it will also coincide with the impeachment of the president. The House of Representatives is scheduled to begin prosecution this week on the one count of incitement to insurrection for the assault.
Before confirming them, the Senate will have to hold hearings for those chosen by Biden. At the moment four have been scheduled: for the nominee for Secretary of National Security, Alejandro Mayorkas; Defense, Lloyd J. Austin; of Treasury, Janet Yellen, and that of Antony Blinken as secretary of state. To confirm them on January 20, the unanimous cooperation of all senators is needed.
Republicans will preside over all hearings held before that day, when Vice President-elect Kamala Harris promises to hand over control to Democrats.
Nominees for government need 51 votes in favor to be confirmed in office. Republicans now dominate the upper house, but control will pass to Democrats once the two winners of two ballots in Georgia take their seats.