For Joe Biden, who will start his presidency tomorrow, getting his national security cabinet approved by the Senate is one of the priorities. Although the names nominated for the State Department, Defense Department, Homeland Security Department and intelligence are not expected to be confirmed by the Senate until Wednesday, when Biden will formally take over the post under oath, some candidates are likely to take office within days.
The Senate approves some nominees, especially those nominated for secretary of defense, usually on the day of the swearing-in ceremony.
The backlash against President Donald Trump four years ago had led to some delays from Democrats for other candidates, with the exception of James Mattis, who was nominated for secretary of defense.
Tensions are high this year over Trump’s dismissal and the extraordinary military presence in Washington, the capital, amid concerns that some extremist groups could cause a scene.
The rapid deployment of the national security team is important for Joe Biden not only in reversing or changing the policies of the Trump administration, but also in terms of diplomatic, military or intelligence issues that could cause problems in the early days of his term around the world.
Lloyd Austin selection discussed in terms of soldier-civilian relations
Among the names Biden has nominated for key posts, the most controversial is retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, whom he has nominated for secretary of defense. Austin needs both Senate approval and an exemption from the House and Senate because he removed his military uniform just four years ago.
Because, according to US law, a person holding a military post must have left his military post at least seven years before he can take up a position in the ministry or cabinet.
The last president whose nominee for secretary of defense did not receive Senate confirmation on the day of the swearing-in ceremony was George H. W. Bush in 1989.W. It was Bush. John Tower, Bush’s nominee for the post, faced opposition and was rejected by the Senate weeks later.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Joe Biden’s nominee for Homeland Security, Antony Blinken, his nominee for State Department, and Avril Haines, the first woman to hold the post of director of national intelligence if confirmed, and Janet Yellen, who is nominated for Finance Secretary, are among the names awaiting Senate confirmation.
Austin is expected to testify before the Senate Armed Services Commission today, but the commission needs to get that exemption for a vote. Republicans are expected to support Austin’s nomination, as are Democrats.
Biden’s cabinet points to a more traditional approach to governing, with experienced decision-makers with expertise, with names with strong relationships in both Washington and world capitals.
“Civilian control of the army”
Lloyd Austin, who would have been the first black to be appointed secretary of defense if he received Senate confirmation, had retired from the Army as a general in 2016. By law, military officials must take at least seven years to be appointed to a civilian post.
The Pentagon has a tradition of maintaining civilian control of the military and protecting the military from excessive military influence. When Joe Biden announced that he was nominating Austin for secretary of defense, he said he was “perfect” for the task.
Lindsay P, an expert on civil-military relations and a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy Cohn said at a Senate hearing last week that granting Austin an exemption harbors worrying risks.
“Choosing a newly retired general and claiming that he is well suited to this task reinforces the discourse that military officials are more successful or more reliable than civilian officers or other civilians, ” Cohn said in the session. This situation is extremely problematic at a time when trust and faith in our country’s political system must be restored. Implying that only one soldier could perform this task during this period is counterproductive to this purpose,” he said.
Some Democrats have indicated they would oppose granting an exemption from the law for Austin. Some Democrats argue that granting such an exemption in a row to the administration would make it a general practice rather than an exception. But even if that is the case, a positive result in the vote is likely.