senate confirmations
April 28, 2021

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Samantha Power as the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development after a 68-26 vote, with several Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in backing President Biden's nominee.

Power is a familiar face in Washington, having served as former President Barack Obama's ambassador to the United Nations during the majority of his second term in the White House. In addition to her duties running USAID, The Hill reports, Power is expected to have a spot the White House National Security Council, which she also served on during Obama's first term before she took on the U.N. role.

While Power ultimately received more than enough votes for confirmation, she did face more Republican opposition this time around than in 2013, when she breezed through the Senate on the back of a 87-10 vote. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who has not voted for Power either time, said Wednesday that her tenure as U.N. ambassador was "deeply problematic" because of the role she played in the Iran nuclear negotiations, and the fact that U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which stated Israel's settlements violated international law, passed while she held the office, although the U.S. abstained from the vote. Read more at The Hill. Tim O'Donnell

April 21, 2021

With a 51-49 vote, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general.

As promised, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) joined the Democrats in voting for Gupta, who is now the first woman of color to serve as associate attorney general. In this role, Gupta is the No. 3 Justice Department official, after Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

Gupta led the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, and Republicans accused her of having "radical" positions on topics like drug legalization and funding for police. Democrats fired back, saying her nomination was endorsed by several law enforcement organizations.

"We never have had a former civil rights attorney serving in such a position of prominence at the Justice Department," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. "In that sense alone, Ms. Gupta would bring a long overdue perspective to our federal law enforcement agency." Catherine Garcia

March 2, 2021

The Senate confirmed Cecilia Rouse on Tuesday to become chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Rouse, a labor economist and former dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, is the first Black person to serve in the role. She was confirmed with a vote of 95-4.

Rouse served on the council during the first Obama administration, in the wake of the Great Recession. During her confirmation hearing, Rouse said economists often "focus on average outcomes instead of examining a range of outcomes. One of my priorities as chair will be to try to understand how policies will impact all in our country, as we strive to ensure the economy works for everyone."

There are too many people who have "slipped through our frayed safety net into hardship and hopelessness," Rouse added. "And structural inequities that have always existed within our economy have not just been exposed, but exacerbated, their impact more devastating than ever before." Catherine Garcia

March 2, 2021

The Senate on Tuesday voted 84-15 to confirm Gina Raimondo as secretary of commerce.

In this role, Raimondo will work to promote American business and industries and ensure fair trade. The Commerce Department is also home to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Raimondo could play a big role in crafting the Biden administration's response to climate change.

Raimondo was the first woman to serve as the governor of Rhode Island, and after the confirmation vote, sent her letter of resignation to Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee (D), who will be sworn in on Tuesday evening as the state's 76th governor. Being governor was "the honor of my lifetime," Raimondo said, and it was "the people of Rhode Island that inspired me and kept me going." Catherine Garcia

March 1, 2021

The Senate on Monday confirmed Miguel Cardona, Connecticut's commissioner of education, as education secretary.

Cardona, 45, has also worked as a teacher, principal, and administrator, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, said he is 
"exactly the leader" needed at the Department of Education during "this moment of crisis." Cardona has "the experience, principles, and perspective that we need in this critical role," she added.

As education secretary, two of the biggest issues Cardona will face is how to best guide schools as they make plans to reopen and managing the government's $1.5 trillion student loan portfolio. During his confirmation hearing, Cardona said he will also focus on inequities in the country's education system, because unless they are "tackled head on," they will "prevent the potential of this great country." Catherine Garcia

May 9, 2018

During her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, President Trump's pick to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, plans on testifying that she will not reinstate waterboarding as a means of gathering intelligence.

Haspel has spent more than 30 years with the CIA, and she's under scrutiny for her work in 2002 at a "black site" in Thailand where terrorism suspects were waterboarded, as well as a 2005 cable where she wrote that videos showing waterboarding should be destroyed. The CIA has not released any details regarding her role at the prison.

In her prepared remarks, Haspel plans on calling the post-9/11 era "a tumultuous time," NPR reports, and she will offer her "personal commitment, clearly and without reservation that under my leadership CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program." Catherine Garcia

April 27, 2017

The Senate voted 60-38 on Thursday to confirm Alexander Acosta, a former U.S. attorney, as labor secretary.

The 48-year-old is the only Latino in President Trump's Cabinet. Trump's first choice for the job, former CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination after it became clear he would not get enough votes for confirmation. The labor secretary enforces laws involving the workplace and unions. Catherine Garcia

January 24, 2017

The Senate confirmation hearing for Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) took a rather odd turn Tuesday when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) proceeded to pull up photographs comparing the inauguration crowds of former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.

"Which crowd is larger?" Merkley asked Mulvaney, Trump's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

"Senator, if you would allow me to give the disclaimer that I'm not really sure how this ties to OMB, I'll be happy to answer your question, which is from that picture it does appear that the [Obama crowd] is bigger than the [Trump crowd]," Mulvaney replied.

Merkley then got to his point: "The president disagreed … he said, 'It's a lie' … The reason I'm raising this is because budget often contains varied deceptions. You and I talked in my office about the 'magic asterisk.' This is an example of where the president's team — on something very simple and straightforward — wants to embrace a fantasy rather than a reality." Watch the full line of inquiry below. Jeva Lange

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