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Biden cabinet nominees to get first Senate confirmation hearings Tuesday

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden’s key cabinet nominees will be in the hot seat on Tuesday for their first round of Senate confirmation hearings.

The hearings will take place one day before Biden’s inauguration, meaning the former veep enters the White House with his cabinet still very much in flux.

Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defense nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines will all front their respective committees on Tuesday, creating a blockbuster day of hearings in the nation’s capitol.

Yellen, Mayorkas and Haines will give testimony at hearings on Capitol Hill at 10 a.m., followed by Blinken at 2 p.m. and Austin at 3 p.m.

The figures, many of them Obama-era officials whose appointments ruffled the feathers of progressives hoping for a seat at the table, are expected to be met with varying degrees of approval.

Yellen, 74, is the former chairwoman of the Federal Reserve and is widely expected to win Senate approval.

Blinken, a foreign affairs adviser to Biden’s campaign who served in both the State Department and the National Security Agency under Presidents Obama and Clinton, is also an uncontroversial pick.

The nominees will begin their confirmation hearing at the Capitol building on Tuesday.
The nominees will begin their confirmation hearings at the Capitol building on Tuesday.
Stephen Yang

However, Biden’s decision to tap retired four-star general Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary nominee has been me

t with resistance from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Austin, who led US Central Command before his retirement in 2016, would need to obtain a waiver from Congress to override a law which says a defense secretary must wait seven years from active service to take the top civilian post.

Despite Biden’s glowing endorsement of Austin, 67, who he called a “true and tested soldier and leader,” Democratic lawmakers have said they are uncomfortable with giving Austin the waiver he needs after they refused to do the same for President Trump’s nominee, Jim Mattis.

On Thursday, Transportation nominee and former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg will have his hearing at 10 a.m.

On Jan. 27, Biden’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs nominee Dennis McDonough will also front the US Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

No other hearings have been scheduled.

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