US President-elect Joe Biden’s candidates for Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense are expected to appear on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as the Senate begins the process of confirming his cabinet selections.
On the eve of Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, longtime aide Antony Blinken will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and retired U.S. Army General Lloyd Austin will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Three other cabinet candidates appear in further confirmation hearings on Tuesday, and one will be heard by the end of the week.
As Secretary of State, Blinken, 58, enters a vital diplomatic role after four years in which the administration of President Donald Trump played down traditional American diplomacy and alliances.
Blinken was previously Biden’s main staff member on the White House National Security Council and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He can be expected to take a tougher approach on Russia and revive diplomacy with Iran. Beijing will remain a complex challenge for Washington after US-China relations hit new lows under Trump.
Biden’s Defense Secretary candidate Austin, 67, is a retired US Army general who forged close ties with Biden when he commanded US forces in Iraq from 2010 to 2012. S ‘It was confirmed, Austin would be the first black secretary of defense.
But he faces an obstacle by winning this confirmation; Austin retired from the military in 2016 and will have to renounce a law in Congress that says no one can be appointed secretary of defense within seven years of active military service.
“Civilian control, civil-military relations and democratic norms are all fragile right now and will require active efforts to rebuild and strengthen,” said Lindsay Cohn, US Naval War College professor on the Armed Services Committee last week. of the Senate.
While “Austin’s leadership may be a step in the right direction to diversify the upper levels of the national security establishment,” the new Biden administration will have to do “whatever it can to rebuild expertise and l ‘civil authority within the Department of Defense,’ Cohn told me.
Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, tweeted his support for Austin on Monday.
The threat to homeland security that the United States currently faces is serious. We need a Secretary of Defense on site immediately. I will vote to confirm Lloyd Austin and grant him waiver, and I urge other senators to do the same.
– Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 18, 2021
Also on Tuesday, Avril Haines, Biden’s candidate for director of national intelligence, America’s top spy, will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee for a confirmation hearing.
Haines, 51, is a former deputy director of the CIA and former deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama. She would be the first woman to hold the post, created by Congress after the September 11 attacks.
Haines has been criticized by human rights groups and progressives for allowing extrajudicial killings in drone attacks at the White House under the Obama administration.
Democratic senators should ask Haines about the CIA torture program, which was implemented under former President George W. Bush, CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou said in a video posted to Twitter.
BREAKDOWN! Sen Intell Com begins its hearings on Tuesday. sure #AprilHaines, #torture enabler & assassin drone, for Dir. by Nat Intell, overseeing 17 agencies, including the CIA. John Kiriakou, #CIA whistleblower, has a question. @RonWyden @MarkWarner @SenFeinstein @MartinHeinrich @MichaelBennet pic.twitter.com/m1xWIumbzu
– Marcy Winograd (@marcywinograd) January 18, 2021
Homeland Security Secretary’s candidate Alejandro Mayorkas will appear before the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Mayorkas came to the United States from Cuba as a child with his parents in 1960 and grew up in California.
The 61-year-old has practiced private law in Washington for the past four years, after serving as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration.
The appointment of Janet Yellen, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is expected to be taken up by the Senate finance committee during a confirmation hearing on Tuesday.
Yellen, 74, would be the first woman to serve as secretary to the treasury, a post that sets a large part of the economic agenda in any president’s administration.
Yellen and Biden face a huge task in getting the US economy to grow again amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps more than any other cabinet position, Yellen’s will have a significant effect on Biden’s future political outlook, which is inextricably linked to the strength of the U.S. economy.
Transportation Secretary candidate Pete Buttigieg is scheduled to appear before the Senate Trade Committee on Thursday, while the confirmation hearing for Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough candidate is scheduled for January 27.