US Senate to hold nomination hearings for Biden’s cabinet

WASHINGTON: Hearings in the US Senate kicks off for President-elect Joe Biden’s nominees for key posts in his cabinet, including for Treasury, Defense and State Departments.
Janet Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, will be among the first nominees, going before the Senate Finance Committee to get confirmed for the head of Treasury.
Antony Blinken, Biden’s selection to be the incoming secretary of state, will appear at the foreign relations committee, and Lloyd Austin will go before the armed services committee for a hearing on his nomination to be defence secretary.
Austin will need a waiver for his job, as he only recently left the military. The issue will likely not get in the way of his confirmation, but there will be debate around the waiver, as there is concern about ensuring civilian oversight of the military.
The Senate Intelligence Committee will question Avril Haines to takeover as director of national intelligence and Alejandro Mayorkas will face a grilling over at the homeland security committee as he looks set to be confirmed as the new secretary of the department.
Committees hold interviews with cabinet nominees but the full Senate votes on confirmation, in line with the Constitution.
PARDONS: Meanwhile, President Donald Trump began his final full day in the White House on Tuesday with a long list of possible pardons to dish out before snubbing his successor Joe Biden’s inauguration and leaving for Florida.
On Wednesday at noon, Biden will be sworn in and the Trump presidency will end, turning the page on some of the most disruptive, divisive years the United States has seen since the 1960s.
Biden, a veteran Democratic senator who also served as vice president to Barack Obama, was set to travel to Washington on Tuesday with his wife Dr Jill Biden from their hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. Together with incoming vice president Kamala Harris — the first woman ever to hold the job — Biden was due to deliver an evening address on the COVID-19 crisis, from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
By contrast, Trump has remained uncharacteristically silent as the clock ticks down to his departure to a new life in his Mar-a-Lago golf club residence in Palm Beach.
Banned by Twitter for his stream of inflammatory messages and misinformation, he has largely stopped communicating with the nation. — dpa/AFP