NEW REPORT: Cabinet Nominees of Color Have Faced Unequal Treatment, Scrutiny Throughout Confirmation Process
In his plan to build a Cabinet that better reflects the country, President Biden has nominated a slate of qualified leaders to run various departments in his administration, becoming the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history
The Senate is significantly behind in the confirmation process across the board, but Biden’s nominees of color have, on average, experienced more delays, obstruction, and threats of opposition than their white counterparts
Accountable Senate War Room: “While some nominees have earned easy support from Republican senators, it does not appear to be a coincidence that the senators voicing opposition are going hardest at Biden’s nominees of color.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, Accountable Senate War Room released a report highlighting the disturbing trend of President Biden’s Cabinet nominees of color facing more obstacles to getting confirmed and increased scrutiny on the Senate floor compared to their white counterparts who have had an easier time getting hearings and floor votes scheduled with greater bipartisan support. This report comes on the heels of the planned opposition to Neera Tanden, President Biden’s pick to run the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Republican opposition to the confirmations of Congresswoman Deb Haaland for Interior Secretary and Xavier Becerra as Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary.
President Biden’s Cabinet nominees have faced unprecedented levels of obstruction, most notably his nominees of color. Biden has less Cabinet positions confirmed than any president in recent history because Senate Republicans refused to move Biden’s nominations forward during the lame-duck period and Senator McConnell refused to hand over the gavels to committees at the start of the new Congress. Even as the Senate finally started moving on nominees, many of Biden’s Cabinet nominees who are white have gone through the confirmation process with relative ease, often with bipartisan support.
By contrast, a disproportionate amount of ire and opposition from senators has been directed at Biden’s nominees of color. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) went as far as launching an ad campaign attacking Xavier Becerra’s record, and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) has vocally opposed Congresswoman Deb Haaland, calling her “radical,” an attack characterized as a racist, sexist dog-whistle by the Billings Gazette editorial board. The very same Republican senators who made Neera Tanden a target from the beginning over her tweets are the same who spent four years claiming to never see President Trump’s vile, often threatening tweets. The differences in treatment between the nominees of color versus that of their white counterparts were glaring enough to gain national attention. HuffPost’s Emily Peck detailed the phenomenon, including the many roadblocks that Biden’s nominees of color have run into while his white nominees have “sailed through” their “relatively conflict-free confirmations.”
“President Biden’s historic Cabinet nominees are exceptional choices that reflect the diversity of the United States of America,” said Mairead Lynn, spokesperson for Accountable Senate War Room. “While some nominees have earned easy support from Republican senators, it does not appear to be a coincidence that the senators voicing opposition are going hardest at Biden’s nominees of color. Senators who stand in the way of these historic confirmations need to reflect on the true motivations behind their opposition.”
Here’s an overview of the data in the report:
- White nominees for Biden’s Cabinet took an average of 44 days to go from their announcement as nominees to receiving a Senate hearing; non-white nominees took an average of 57 days, a 13-day difference.
- As of February 24, Biden’s white nominees have waited an average of 58 days from being announced as a nominee to receiving their Senate floor vote; Biden’s non-white nominees have waited an average of 72 days for their Senate floor vote, a difference of 14 days.
- As of February 24, Biden’s white nominees have waited an average of 14 days from receiving a Senate hearing to receiving a Senate floor vote; it took Biden’s non-white nominees 19 days to go from Senate hearing to Senate floor vote, a difference of 5 days.
- Xavier Becerra waited the longest between announcement and hearing — 79 days — and Linda Thomas-Greenfield waited the longest between announcement and floor vote — 92 days.