Live Updates: Senate to act on Cabinet nominees as Biden tackles economy


Washington — The Senate will be trying to move President Biden’s Cabinet nominations through on Friday, with a vote by the full Senate to confirm General Lloyd Austin to be defense secretary, and a committee vote advancing Janet Yellen‘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.

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.

Biden Ramps Up Covid Fight With Orders Nixing Trump Policies
President Joe Biden speaks during an event on his administration’s COVID-19 response in the State Dining Room of the White House on January 21, 2021.

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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