Schumer Floor Remarks Calling On The Senate To Hold January Hearings On President-Elect Joe Biden’s Impressive Slate Of Cabinet Nominees

December 1, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need to hold hearings for President-elect Biden’s qualified and experienced Cabinet nominees in January immediately after the Georgia Senate elections. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

President-elect Biden continues to roll out an impressive slate of candidates he intends to nominate to his cabinet and other key administrative positions.

They provide an incredibly stark contrast to the caliber of the nominees the Senate considered over the past four years. Not only are President-elect Biden’s nominees exceptionally qualified and familiar with the institutions to which they’re nominated, but they have a broad range of backgrounds and experiences—they actually look like America.

Today, I’ll be meeting with President-elect Biden’s intended Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, and his intended Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, who is the first woman to be nominated to serve in that position.

Like most Americans are doing these days, our meeting will take place over a video chat, and I am looking forward to asking both Mr. Blinken and Ms. Haines about their views on a range of issues concerning American diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security, and how to repair some of the damage to America’s reputation and relationships abroad.

Now, after all we went through over the past four years, I would expect that almost all of President-elect Biden’s nominees would be widely acceptable to the Senate. After all, Senate Republicans confirmed several Trump appointees who lacked the necessary qualifications, who were mired in ethics scandals, and who made outrageous and inflammatory comments in the past.

Republican Senators often argued that a president deserves broad deference when it comes to their cabinet and official appointments, and blew past controversies that would in almost any other time be disqualifying. President-elect Biden’s nominees, of course, are in a different universe.

Well, we’re already starting to see the switch flip now that President-elect Biden is naming the names.

To take just one example, Senate Republicans reacted to the historic nomination of Neera Tanden to run the Office of Management and Budget by calling her “radioactive,” a “nut-job,” and expressing alarm over some critical tweets in the past.

After spending four years pretending that they didn’t see the latest insane tweet from President Trump, Senate Republicans seem to have found a newfound interest in the twitter feeds of President-elect Biden’s cabinet selections.

With respect to the Office of Management and Budget specifically, Senate Republicans lined up to confirm the previous OMB Director, Russell Vought, after he was at the heart of the scandal that led to President Trump’s impeachment—withholding security aid to an ally at war, Ukraine.

If Senate Republicans are worried about someone with a partisan background at OMB, perhaps they shouldn’t have voted to confirm Russell Vought, who used to work not just at the Heritage Foundation, but for its partisan advocacy arm.

If Senate Republicans are concerned about someone who made controversial comments running OMB, perhaps they shouldn’t have confirmed Russell Vought, who once said that “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”

That was the previous OMB director, condemning an entire religion. The Republican majority confirmed him despite these inflammatory comments and despite his conduct as an interim director and despite his career as a partisan warrior.

But a few critical tweets about substantive, policy positions have caused Senate Republicans to label Ms. Tanden’s nomination “radioactive.” Spare us the hyperbole. Ms. Tanden, we all know, is an eminently qualified nominee who would be the first woman of color to ever run the Office of Management and Budget.

As Biden continues to name his team, I’m sure we’ll hear some more of these overblown complaints from Republican Senators. But after the caliber of nominees that this Republican majority confirmed over the past four years, it will be impossible—impossible—to take them seriously.

The Senate committees should prepare to hold hearings on President-elect Biden’s nominees, in January, immediately after the Georgia elections. Let me say that again. The Senate committees should prepare to hold hearings on President-elect Biden’s nominees, in January, immediately after the Georgia elections.

That’s customary for a new president. The Senate holds several hearings in January so that key cabinet officials can be confirmed on January 20th and shortly thereafter. That’s what the Senate did for President Trump and President Obama. That’s what the Senate must do for President-elect Biden as well.