Ahead of Senate bottlenecks, Biden is competing to fill agency jobs

“For months, the transition focused on identifying critical positions for the immediate and successful implementation of the Biden-Harris Agenda, analyzing individual federal agencies from the ground up,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the transition. “With both sides of Congress, we are working to strengthen qualified, experienced candidates while hiring senior agency leaders to be ready on the first day to fight the pandemic and recession while protecting U.S. national security.”

Two Georgian elections will determine who will govern the Senate, although these results will only be known on or after January 5th. The Biden team seems to be planning ahead as if Republicans would prevail and keep the chamber.

The heightened urgency follows a period of weeks in which the Trump administration refused to recognize Biden’s victory, a process called “conviction”. Foreign policy experts have expressed concern about the delay, warning that it could have dangerous consequences.

Biden’s team is working to “immediately replace all Trump’s political appointees,” with a particular focus on national security positions, the former U.S. official involved in the transition said. – There’s a man he’s all the way to [deputy assistant secretary] level.”

Biden has promised to hire a wide variety of people, and that commitment extends to middle- and lower-level ranks, one of the people familiar with the situation said. The person added that Biden and his helpers are aware that many career civil servants – accused by the Trump government of being members of an unfaithful “deep state” – are enthusiastically considering promotions and will also consider these desires. .

Even within the ad hoc group, admission decisions are treated confidentially by many, with only a few people involved. A “staff unit” was created for veterinary candidates and was described as a “black box” by a person familiar with the situation. This is partly due to the sensitivity surrounding rental processes in the design. However, one person familiar with the situation noted that this also alleviates the embarrassment, given that so many people who volunteer or work temporarily in the transition team compete with each other for the job.

Lisa Monaco and Suzy George, both veterans of the Barack Obama government’s national security team, play a key role in overseeing personnel decisions, a transition figure says. In addition to Yohannes Abraham Gautam Raghavan and Stephanie Valencia, he is also heavily involved in the staff, says another participant in the transition.

Biden has not yet elected candidates for CIA director and defense secretary, despite exhibiting other senior members of his national security team. Michèle Flournoy, the leading candidate for the work of the Pentagon, previously served as the country’s political secretary.

In an interview with the Transition Lab podcast earlier this year, Flournoy said hiring underpants was a top priority when he arrived at the Pentagon in the first months of the Obama administration and that he was lucky to be confirmed soon to “build the litter” team.

“Every free moment – and even at night – I looked at resumes and tried to make decisions,” he said. “The simplest thing was to hire deputy secretaries and those under him because they didn’t require confirmation from the senate. … So first the younger staff is in place. Then six months, 12 months [later]as the assistant secretariats begin to traverse the reinforcement, they need to find ways to make room for them and how to really tap into their talents.

If Republicans retain a majority in the Senate after Georgia’s election, majority leader Mitch McConnell will play an oversized role in the ratification process.

GOP leaders have already indicated that they intend to keep the traditional protocol with presidential candidates, although some elections, such as Neera Tanden, Biden’s election to lead the Office of Administration and Budget, and held by Republicans outside the “mainstream,” are an upward battle.

“I’m not shutting anyone down, but I think it’s going to be a lot harder to send people from their progressive left who are somehow outside the mainstream,” said John Thune, Senate majority, Whip John Thune (RS.D.).

“I hope they can consult with us so that if someone is sent here, we can confirm someone,” Thune added.

Some of Biden’s candidates are already welcoming Republican senators.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), for example, said he had “philosophical” disagreements over Biden Janet Yellen’s election as finance minister, but said he had “no problem” with him and saw no reason to nominate him.

“My attitude is that missing conflicts of interest or other – lack of temperament and uber partisanship – in addition to these [Biden] you have to get the people you want to serve, ”Cornyn said. “Obviously there are differences of opinion about politics, and that’s okay.”

While cabinet candidates may receive relatively quick hearings, the Senate is likely to take many other positions that need confirmation. Much of this is simply due to logistics, such as scheduling hearings.

A coronavirus outbreak may delay the process. Could the running races in Georgia also work if the results are close and their verification takes days or weeks, leaving open the question of who is in charge of the Senate.

Lara Seligman contributed.