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For Immediate Release

Press Release

A Week of Obstruction Leaves Biden Administration Without Confirmed Cabinet, Including Key National Security Roles

WASHINGTON -

President Biden was sworn in this week with fewer confirmed Cabinet secretaries than any other president in recent history. This was a result of unprecedented obstructionism from Senate Republicans who failed to keep the confirmation process moving for President Biden’s nominees when they were in the majority. And although control of the Senate changed on Wednesday afternoon, Minority Leader McConnell is taking unprecedented, bad-faith steps to obstruct President Biden’s Cabinet and his ability to implement his agenda.  

On Tuesday, the Accountable Senate War Room released a lookback at Senate Republicans’ failure to keep these nominations on track:

  • Words of GOP Senators Come Back to Haunt Them
    President-elect Biden has gathered a top-notch, highly qualified team of experts who are ready to tackle our country’s toughest challenges. His team must be in place as quickly as possible to enact the agenda that millions of Americans support: to address the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritize the needs of working families ahead of special interests, and undo the damage caused by the last four years of the Trump administration. Further delaying the confirmation of President-elect Biden’s nominees will only cement Senate Republicans’ legacy as disrupters of the decades-long tradition of ensuring a swift transition of power from one administration to the next. It is the responsibility of these lawmakers during this lame-duck period to fulfill their oath of office, which includes preparing the next administration for leadership, regardless of their personal political beliefs. Any senator unable to do that should step down from their position and make room for leaders willing to put country over party. [1/19/2021]

We also highlighted the risks these delays pose to national security, and how Senator Josh Hawley, after helping incite a violent insurrection, can once again be found at the center of this national security threat: 

  • Watchdog Group Releases New Report Highlighting Hypocrisy of Republican Senators Who Once Urged the Speedy Confirmation of Cabinet Members for National Security
    “To see the same Republican senators who clamored for the quick confirmation of Trump’s nominees slow walk President-elect Biden’s picks is the height of hypocrisy,” said Mairead Lynn, spokesperson for Accountable Senate War Room. “By abdicating their responsibility to ensure a smooth transition of power and a swift confirmation process for Biden’s national security picks, Senate Republicans have put our safety and the security of our nation at risk. It’s time for these Republican senators to end their partisanship and hypocrisy and step aside and let President-elect Biden’s experienced, crisis-tested team get to work.” [1/18/2021]
  • American Independent: GOP senators suddenly don’t care if anyone’s in charge of national security
    According to a report from the anti-corruption watchdog group Accountable.US, numerous Republicans who are current members of the Senate pressed hard for Trump’s nominees to be confirmed quickly back in 2017, yet have been relatively silent as Biden prepares to take office with a pending Cabinet and national security team. [1/19/2021
  • Watchdog Group: The American People Shouldn’t Have to Pay the Price Because Hawley Feels the Need to Pander to Extreme Base
    “After helping to incite a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Senator Hawley has the gall to block the incoming Biden administration from having the top homeland security official in place on day one,” said Mairead Lynn, spokesperson for the Accountable Senate War Room. “Alejandro Mayorkas would be responsible for stopping future insurrectionist attacks against our country and this move by Hawley puts our national security at risk yet again. The American people shouldn’t have to pay the price just because Hawley feels the need to pander to the extreme wing of his base.” [1/19/2021]
  • As Hawley Once Again Puts National Security At Risk, Senate Must Reject His Antics and Quickly Confirm Mayorkas
    After helping to incite a deadly attack against the Capitol, Senator Josh Hawley is now blocking the nomination of the person responsible for stopping violent insurrection attempts and other national security threats — the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Hawley’s role in the insurrection led seven Democratic senators to file an ethics complaint against him yesterday. While it’s unsurprising that Hawley is once again putting the demands of his extreme base over national security, the Accountable Senate War Room is calling on the rest of the Senate to reject Hawley’s sideshow, and come together to confirm this critical nominee as quickly as possible. [1/22/2021
  • CNN: Senate confirms Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, the first Biden Cabinet nominee confirmed
    Biden may struggle to get additional nominees confirmed quickly, as those confirmations could be stalled until Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer cut a deal on a resolution outlining how they’ll share power in the Senate, GOP and Democratic senators said Wednesday. [1/20/2021
  • POLITICO: Really quite shocking’: Inside the ugly transition at the Pentagon
    The effort to obstruct the Biden team, led by senior White House appointees at the Pentagon, is unprecedented in modern presidential transitions and will hobble the new administration on key national security matters as it takes over positions in the Defense Department on Wednesday, the officials said. [1/20/2021
  • Business Insider: Trump officials in the Pentagon reportedly blocked Biden’s transition team from accessing information on military operations, including the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines
    The Pentagon transition was uglier than previously known, Politico reported Wednesday, revealing that the political appointees at the Department of Defense muzzled generals and kept critical information from the incoming administration’s transition team. Meetings on issues ranging from military operations in conflict zones to vaccines were canceled, delayed, or controlled in ways that made it difficult for the Biden transition team to get the information they needed, Politico reported, citing a number of Pentagon and transition officials. After his election loss, President Donald Trump fired his defense secretary and installed loyalists in top posts, an unprecedented move in an administration’s final weeks. [1/21/2021

Additionally, Accountable Senate War Room highlighted the overall hypocrisy demonstrated by Senate Republicans regarding the entire transition of power process:  

  • Watchdog Group: Rank Hypocrisy from Senators Who Suddenly Have Concerns About Deficit After Pouring Trillions into Tax Cuts for Rich
    Now, when hard working American families need help more than ever, Republican senators are threatening to block much-needed aid for their suffering constituents and are pretending to be concerned about increasing the national debt, a hypocritical and dangerous stance that would have devastating implications for workers and families if it were allowed to obstruct COVID relief and economic support. [1/19/2021]
  • McConnell Obstruction Continues As He Refuses to Agree to Organizing Resolution, Further Slowing Down Biden’s Cabinet Nominees
    In a last-ditch effort to obstruct President Biden’s Cabinet and agenda, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to agree to the organizing resolution that would allow Democrats to take control of committees and quickly confirm President Biden’s Cabinet. [1/21/2021]
  • POLITICO: Democrats rebuff McConnell’s filibuster demands
    Senate Democrats are signaling they will reject an effort by Mitch McConnell to protect the legislative filibuster as part of a deal to run a 50-50 Senate, saying they have little interest in bowing to his demands just hours into their new Senate majority. McConnell has publicly and privately pressed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to work to keep the 60-vote threshold on most legislation as part of their power-sharing agreement. Democrats have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they’re about to govern. [1/21/2021]

Finally, Accountable Senate War Room released a comparison of 2001, the last time there was a 50-50 Senate split, to 2021, and how under Democratic control of the Senate, Bush’s nominees were confirmed in a timely manner: 

  • Flashback, 2001: In 50-50 Senate Under Democratic Control, Bush’s Nominees “Breezed Through Their Senate Committee Hearings”
    With Democrats controlling the Senate leading up to the 2001 Inauguration, they fulfilled their duty to ensure the incoming Bush administration was prepared to lead on day one, including holding hearings for 12 of President Bush’s 14 Cabinet nominees before Inauguration Day. By contrast, following the 2020 election, Senate Republicans delayed, obstructed, and stalled the confirmation process for President-elect Biden’s Cabinet. [1/21/2021]

###

Accountable.US is a nonpartisan watchdog that exposes corruption in public life and holds government officials and corporate special interests accountable by bringing their influence and misconduct to light. In doing so, we make way for policies that advance the interests of all Americans, not just the rich and powerful. 

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