Schumer Floor Remarks Calling For January Senate Hearings On President-Elect Joe Biden’s Well-Qualified Cabinet Immediately After The Georgia Senate Elections

November 30, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding President-elect Biden’s announcement of well-qualified individuals he intends to nominate to lead his team. Senator Schumer called for Senate hearings on cabinet nominees in January immediately following the Georgia Senate elections. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

As President-elect Biden prepares to assume office on January 20th, he’s beginning to announce a slate of qualified, experienced public servants who he intends to nominate to his cabinet or other key administration positions.

This morning, the president-elect announced that he has assembled his core economic team, led by another Brooklyn native Janet Yellen, who would be the first woman to ever hold the title of Treasury Secretary. The president-elect’s economic team clearly has the experience, knowledge, and prowess to meet the seriousness of this moment. More than that, they understand the needs of all Americans because they represent all different kinds of Americans. They will get to work not just on rebuilding our economy, but striving to provide greater and more equitable prosperity to future generations.

Alongside the president-elect’s deeply experienced national security team, and his soon-to-be-announced health team, his economic team will ensure that the incoming Biden-Harris administration will hit the ground running.

Everyone knows that the Senate plays a pivotal role in confirming a new president’s cabinet. In the midst of this once-in-a-century crisis, it is imperative that the next administration can count on the Senate to confirm its cabinet without delay.

So, hearings on President-elect Biden’s nominees should begin in January immediately after the Georgia runoff elections.

Let me say that again: the next Senate should begin hearings on President-elect Biden’s nominees in January, immediately after the Georgia Senate elections, so that key cabinet officials can be confirmed on January 20th and soon thereafter, which is traditional for a new president.

Senate Committees held hearings for President Obama’s nominees and President Trump’s nominees in early January, before the inauguration. Majority and minority staff should begin preparations for those hearings as President-elect Biden names his cabinet.

Now, President-elect Biden’s slate of intended nominees provides a stark contrast to the caliber of nominees advanced by the current Trump administration over the past four years. The early days of the Trump presidency were defined by high-level appointments of individuals who were manifestly unqualified, plagued by ethics complaints, or swimming in conflicts-of-interest—sometimes all three.

At the time, Republicans in the Senate lined up to confirm President Trump’s appointments, arguing that a president deserves his cabinet and broad deference on his nominees. I would hope that the same deference will be extended to President-elect Biden’s nominees, especially considering the obvious gulf in quality, experience, ethics.

Already, however, the Republicans are twisting themselves into pretzels to explain their reflexive opposition to these outstanding selections. Neera Tanden, who would be the first woman of color to ever run the Office of Management and Budget, is so eminently qualified that some on the Republican side—grasping at straws—have taken issue with comments made on twitter criticizing the policy positions of Republicans in Congress.

Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump, who has made a hobby out of denigrating Republican Senators on twitter.

I fully expect to see some crocodile tears spilled on the other side of the aisle over the President-elect’s cabinet nominees. But it will be very tough to take those crocodile tears seriously.

Our Republican colleagues are on the record supporting some of the least qualified, most unethical and downright sycophantic federal nominees in recent memory.

Many defended the conduct of the previous OMB Director, Russell Vought, who allowed foreign aid to be held up for political reasons—resulting in the President’s impeachment.

Right now, Republicans in Congress are looking the other way while President Trump pardons a man who pled guilty to the FBI.

So again, it will be impossible to take these overblown complaints over President-elect Biden’s nominees very seriously.

Given the urgent need to address COVID-19 and its economic fallout, the Senate should follow precedent and promptly hold hearings on President-elect Biden’s nominees in January, immediately after the Georgia elections, before inauguration.

The American people cannot afford to wait to have its government working at full force to keep them safe, defeat the virus, and get our economy back on track.