Senate Democrats confirmed the final Cabinet official in President Joe Biden’s administration earlier this week, making him the first president in more than 35 years to get all traditional Cabinet selections confirmed.
Considering Biden chose no Republicans, and we have an evenly split U.S. Senate — two seats smaller than the 52-seat Republican majority four years ago — it’s rather remarkable, since Democrats no doubt originally prepared for several confirmation battles.
Biden’s “Big Four” Cabinet picks ― Attorney General, Defense, State and Treasury ― all received at least 70 votes. His nominees received 73 votes on average, compared with former President Donald Trump’s average of 70.
Biden also outpaced his most recent predecessors in getting the Cabinet in place. Trump and former President Barack Obama didn’t install their final nominees until April.
Despite placing race and gender over qualifications at many spots, two Democratic senators are still angry. Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono threatened to withhold support for future nominees until the administration met their diversity expectations.
This is breathtakingly silly and transparent. As HotAir’s Ed Morrissey explained Tuesday, Duckworth and Hirono had about three months to complain.
“Why didn’t they go public in mid-January, before Biden formally submitted any of his Cabinet nominations to the Senate? This protest looks much more like an attempt to exploit the current hype about discrimination against Asian-Americans rather than a principled dissent,” Morrissey wrote. “Did Hirono or Duckworth vote against any of Biden’s Cabinet picks? If not, then aren’t they complicit in this alleged dismissal of Asian Americans themselves? It certainly doesn’t appear to have animated them until now, when it’s too late to do anything about it. In other words, this is empty posturing for public relations, as well as closing the barn door months after the horse has bolted.”
Only a few hours later, Duckworth proved Morrissey prescient by caving on her nakedly racist blackmailing when the White House reportedly assured the senator “it will do much more to elevate AAPI voices.”
Biden’s nominee for director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden — who is “South Asian” — is the only Cabinet-level nominee who withdrew due to lack of support.
After expending ammunition on Tanden, Republicans mounted serious opposition to only two other nominees: former Rep. Deb Haaland at Interior, and former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra at Health and Human Services. In both cases, Democrats persuaded crucial senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema into supporting the cause.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins also backed Becerra, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski reluctantly supported Haaland.
The most frequent Republican votes against Biden’s nominees came from cable news regulars and potential 2024 presidential candidates. Sen. Josh Hawley voted against all but two, while Sens. Ted Cruz and Rick Scott voted against all except three, and Sen. Tom Cotton opposed 17 of the 21.
When Trump picked his first Cabinet — which overall featured the most “no” votes in U.S. history — the five senators most frequently opposing his nominees were failed 2020 presidential candidates Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.
Biden still has over 1,200 federal positions that require Senate confirmation, with nearly half of those positions lacking a named nominee.