Senate confirms Biden 1st Cabinet pick as Democrats control

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Three new senators had been sworn into workplace Wednesday after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, securing the bulk for Democrats within the Senate and throughout a unified authorities to deal with the brand new president’s agenda at a time of unprecedented nationwide challenges.

In a primary vote, the Senate confirmed Biden’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators labored into the night and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what’s historically a present of excellent religion on Inauguration Day to substantiate not less than some nominees for a brand new president’s administration.

Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will change into a core member of Biden’s safety staff, overseeing the companies that make up the nation’s intelligence neighborhood. She was confirmed 84-10.

The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to show the spirit of the brand new president’s name for unity into motion.

“President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer mentioned in his first speech as majority chief. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.”

Vice President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to ship the oath of workplace to the brand new Democratic senators – Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla – simply hours after taking her personal oath on the Capitol alongside Biden.

The three Democrats be a part of a Senate narrowly cut up 50-50 between the events, however giving Democrats the bulk with Harris in a position to solid the tie-breaking vote.

Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.’s church in Atlanta, received run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to complete the rest of Harris’ time period.

“Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff informed reporters earlier on the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.”

Taken collectively, their arrival offers Democrats for the primary time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 disaster and its financial fallout, and the nation’s painful political divisions from the lethal January 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump.

Congress is being referred to as on to think about Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID restoration bundle, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economic system as greater than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the identical time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the riot on the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate might want to verify different Biden Cabinet nominees.

To “restore the soul” of the nation, Biden mentioned in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.”

Yet as Washington seems to be to show the web page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican chief Mitch McConnell is just not relinquishing energy with no struggle.

Haines’ nomination was quickly blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought details about the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding again the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden’s proposed immigration modifications.

And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing settlement with Senate Democrats except they meet his calls for, mainly to protect the Senate filibuster – the procedural instrument typically utilized by the minority occasion to dam payments below guidelines that require 60 votes to advance laws.

McConnell, in his first speech as the minority occasion chief, mentioned the election outcomes with slender Democratic control of the House and Senate confirmed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.”

The Republican chief mentioned he appeared ahead working with the brand new president “wherever possible.”

At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki mentioned Biden’s need to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and center for the president,” and she or he mentioned he hoped to have his nationwide safety nominees in place Thursday or Friday.

Psaki mentioned the president shall be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID reduction bundle, however left the main points of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress.

The Senate can “multitask,” she mentioned.

That’s a tall order for a Senate below regular circumstances, however much more so now within the post-Trump period, with Republicans badly cut up between their loyalties to the defeated president and rich donors who’re distancing themselves from Republicans who again Trump.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is predicted to quickly transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment in opposition to Trump, charged with incitement of riot, a step that may launch the Senate impeachment trial.

Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate.

It’s an arcane struggle McConnell has inserted into what has historically been a extra routine organizing decision over committee assignments and staffing assets, however an influence play by the outgoing Republican chief grabbing at instruments that can be utilized to dam Biden’s agenda.

Progressive and liberal Democrats are desirous to eliminate the filibuster to extra shortly advance Biden’s priorities, however not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any modifications however McConnell is taking no probabilities.

For now, it is going to take unanimous consent amongst senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative enterprise and serving as jurors within the impeachment trial. The House final week impeached Trump for having despatched the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” in the course of the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election.

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