Schumer Hails Senate’s Quick Approval of Biden’s 15 Cabinet Secretaries

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Schumer Hails Senate’s Quick Approval of Biden’s 15 Cabinet Secretaries” – below is their description.

    President Joe Biden’s Cabinet is nearly complete with the confirmation of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on Monday. But the work of building his administration is just beginning, as Biden has hundreds of key presidential appointments to make to fill out the federal government.

    The process of building out a government, according to Paul Light, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is “nasty, brutish, and not at all short.”

    Biden has about 1,250 federal positions that require Senate confirmation, ranging from the head of the obscure Railroad Retirement Board to more urgent department positions such as assistant and deputy secretaries. Of the 790 being tracked by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan good-government group, 23 appointees have been confirmed by the Senate, 39 are being considered by the Senate, and 466 positions have no named nominee.

    According to Max Stier, president and CEO of the partnership, filling out those key posts will likely take the better part of the year — and those vacancies have real-world consequences.

    Many agencies, he said, have various sections “that have leadership that really runs that specific component,” Stier said.

    Aside from Walsh, who was confirmed by a 68-29 vote, there are a few finishing touches for his Cabinet-level appointees. The Senate has yet to confirm Eric Lander as Biden’s top science adviser, and the White House still hasn’t named anyone to head his Budget office, after Neera Tanden withdrew her nomination amid controversy. The White House is facing pressure from lawmakers on Capitol Hill to name Shalanda Young, the current nominee for deputy budget director, to the top role.

    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has set up confirmation votes this week for Young, along with Vivek Murthy for surgeon general and Rachel Leland Levine for assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, among others, before the Senate adjourns for recess until mid-April.

    Beneath the Cabinet heads that have been confirmed are numerous sub-departments that remain leaderless. Many have only acting heads in place even as the administration faces a number of pressing situations in addition to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Recent crimes against Asian Americans have sparked fresh debate over the nation’s gun laws, but Biden has yet to nominate anyone to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. And the wave of migrants at the border is underscoring major challenges in enforcing immigration and asylum laws. Biden hasn’t nominated anyone to head the three key agencies in charge of much of their implementation: Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Asked last week about those vacancies, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said they were “all important agencies” but offered no timeline for naming nominees.

    There are also key vacancies at the Department of Health and Human Services that will play a significant role in addressing the coronavirus pandemic. Biden has named Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to be the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but it’s unclear who he’ll choose to head the Food and Drug Administration, which plays an important role in approving vaccines and treatments for the pandemic.

    “The federal government is not so much headless as neck-less. The sub-Cabinet — the associates, the assistants, the deputy secretaries, and then all of the political appointees they bring with them — those are the nerve endings, that’s the spinal cord down into the guts of the hierarchy,” said Light.

    Department heads “do not make things happen by fiat. They have to work through the channels that exist, and a vacancy is always a threat to effective delivery.”

    Senate panels are also holding a handful of confirmation hearings this week as lawmakers turn their focus to issues such as the cost of prescription drugs, gun violence and the state of the 2020 Census.

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    In This Story: Census

    A census is the procedure of systematically enumerating, and acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. This term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common censuses include agricultural, traditional culture, business, supplies, and traffic censuses.

    One of the world’s earliest preserved censuses was held in China in ad 2 during the Han Dynasty. The population was registered as having 57,671,400 individuals in 12,366,470 households.

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