Biden's top defense and foreign policy picks face confirmation hearings Tuesday

Top security picks unlikely to be confirmed today
Joe Biden Lloyd Austin
Posted at 10:14 AM, Jan 19, 2021

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s national security Cabinet may be bare on Day One of his presidency.

His nominees to head the State Department, the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence community are facing a series of confirmation hearings starting on inauguration eve.

None is likely to be confirmed by the time Biden takes the oath of office Wednesday.

The following Biden defense nominees will face confirmation hearings on Tuesday:

  • Secretary of state nominee Antony Blinken, will face questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Secretary of defense nominee Lloyd J. Austin III will face questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee
  • Director of national intelligence nominee Avril Haines will face questions from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
  • Homeland security secretary nominee Alejandro Mayorkas will face questions from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

The Senate typically confirms some nominees, particularly the secretary of defense, on Inauguration Day. However raw feelings about President Donald Trump four years ago led to Democratic-caused delays, except for James Mattis as Sec. of Defense.

This year, the tension is heightened by Trump’s second impeachment and impending trial in the Senate, which could begin as soon as this week.

Austin may face the most challenges in securing his nomination. The retired general has only been out of uniform for four years, meaning in addition to a confirmation vote, he will need Democrats and Republicans to agree to waive a rule that requires a seven-year waiting period from military retirement. Upon the announcement of his nomination, some Democrats expressed skepticism in waiving the requirement.

Mattis also required such a waiver upon his nomination.