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Four Confirmed for Biden's Cabinet as Senate Moves to Confirm Others by Week's End

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, left, and Yellen's husband George Akerlof participate in a swearing-in ceremony with Vice President Kamala Harris, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

One week into the new administration, President Biden has four confirmed cabinet members and the Senate could take action on others by the end of this week.

With Democrats now holding the majority in the Senate, they hope to quickly confirm the rest of President Biden's cabinet picks while juggling other top priorities.

"The Senate will deal with three things simultaneously, nominations - we are working to confirm more nominees this week, a fair impeachment trial, and delivering emergency COVID relief," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters Tuesday. 

Confirmed thus far are Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"I am honored to begin work as our nation's 71st Secretary of State," declared Blinken after he was sworn in. "It's a new day for America, it's a new day for the world." 

The Senate will soon vote on Biden's pick to lead Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas.  Mayorkas's nomination heads to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation with Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Rob Portman (R-OH) voting in favor of his nomination. 

"I do think we need someone in place," Portman during the committee meeting. "We've got the massive cybersecurity attack that we aren't talking about much because it seems like everything else has become more important. But that probably is the most significant national security threat we've had in this country in years."

Other Republicans like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) have reservations about Mayorkas.

"Again, as I said, although I had a good working relationship with Mr. Mayorkas as deputy secretary of DHS and hope to work with him in good faith if he is confirmed as secretary," said Johnson. "I simply cannot support his nomination and I would urge members not to as well."

If confirmed, Mayorkas would become the first Hispanic and first immigrant to head the DHS.

"Born in Cuba, with his family, came here as a refugee fleeing the Castro administration," described Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). "He's a man of integrity. A man of principle with an incomparable work ethic."

Also making history is Biden's choice to lead the Interior Department, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM), who would be the first Native American cabinet secretary, and transportation nominee Pete Buttigieg, who would be the first openly LGBTQ person to serve in a cabinet-level position.

As a candidate, Biden pledged to make his administration and cabinet look like America, and if the rest of his nominees are confirmed, he will have the most diverse cabinet in U.S. history.  

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