Washington — The Senate is trying to move President Biden’s Cabinet nominations forward on Friday — it confirmed Generalto be defense secretary by a vote of 93 to 2, and the Senate Finance Committee unanimously advanced ‘s nomination to be treasury secretary. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that he hoped Yellen and Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken could also be confirmed by the full Senate this week.
Yellen and Austin, a four-star general who retired from military service just four years ago, testified at their confirmation hearings earlier this week. If confirmed, Austin will be the first Black man to lead the Pentagon.
Earlier this week, he referred to himself as a “general and a soldier” but said “I am prepared to serve now — as a civilian — fully acknowledging the importance of this distinction.”
Yellen, at her Senate confirmation hearing, called for “big” action on the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.
“Economists don’t always agree, but I think there is a consensus now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now — and long-term scarring of the economy later,” she told senators. So far, one nominee, the president’s director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, has been confirmed.
Schumer announced Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has informed him that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump on Monday, triggering the beginning of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued for delaying receipt of the article: “Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions at stake,” he said on the floor.
Later in the day, Mr. Biden will be turning his attention to the economy with two executive orders: one will increase federal food aid and streamline the delivery of stimulus checks, and the second will direct the Office of Personnel Management to develop recommendations to increase the minimum wage for federal employees to $15 per hour.
Mr. Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan to Congress, but it’s unclear whether it will garner enough Republican support to pass on a bipartisan basis, and it’s possible a budgetary process known as reconciliation may have to be utilized to enact the legislation. Until Congress is able to pass another relief bill, it’s considered by the Biden administration to be a stopgap measure to stabilize the economy.