A good month after taking office, the US Senate has confirmed further personal details from the cabinet of US President Joe Biden. The Congress Chamber approved the appointment of the experienced diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the UN with a clear majority of 78 against 20 votes. The 68-year-old African American Thomas-Greenfield was, among other things, Secretary of State for Africa Affairs under the former President Barack Obama in her long career.
The Senate also approved Tom Vilsack’s nomination as Minister of Agriculture on Tuesday. 92 senators voted for him, with only seven votes against. The 70-year-old has held the post at the head of the agriculture department for the entire eight years of the Obama presidency.
Resistance at other posts
Other nominations for Biden’s government team have met with greater resistance in the Senate. Prosecutor General Xavier Becerra, nominated for the post of Minister of Health, faced tough questioning by opposition Republican senators on Tuesday. The Republican chief in the chamber, Mitch McConnell, described Becerra as “radical” and as “underqualified” for the health department, which was particularly important in the times of the corona pandemic.
Becerra is currently attorney general for the most populous state of California. The 63-year-old has been a key defender of Obama’s health care reform over the years.
Biden’s Democrats have a shaky majority in the Senate. Like the Republicans, you have 50 votes in the Chamber. If there is a stalemate, Vice President Kamala Harris, who is also Senate Chairperson by office, has the casting vote. The prerequisite for Becerra to be the first Latino to take over the office of health minister is that the Democrats vote for him unanimously.
Republicans fear “harmful influence”
The candidate for the post of budget director in the White House, Neera Tanden, has fewer prospects of a successful nomination process than Becerra. The Democratic Senator Joe Manchin announced on Friday that he would vote against them.
Because of her partisan statements, Tanden could have a “detrimental influence” on the important working relationship between the budget bureau and Congress, said Manchin, who belongs to the moderate wing of the Democrats. The Indian-born Tanden is the director of the left-wing institute Center for American Progress.
Like the ministers nominated by Biden, Tanden cannot take office without the Senate’s green light. More than a month after Biden took office, the Congress Chamber confirmed fewer than half of the 23 members of his cabinet. Biden has been in office since January 20th.