As Washington prepares for embattled President Donald J. Trump to depart the White House early tomorrow morning and for Joseph R. Biden, Jr. to be sworn in at noon, Biden will deliver one last set of remarks this afternoon from Wilmington, Delaware, where he has conducted his transition amid a raging pandemic, before heading to Washington on the eve of his inauguration. Here is where things stand as Democrats are on the cusp of assuming control:
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain released a Saturday memo outlining the planned actions for the first days of the Biden Presidency.
WEDNESDAY, after the inauguration, mostly by executive action:
— Declaration that the U.S. is rejoining Paris climate accord.
— Declaration that the U.S. is rejoining World Health Organization.
— Ethical standards for his administration and an order prohibiting interference in the operations of the Justice Department from other parts of government.
— Start of a process to restore 100 public health and environmental rules that the Obama administration created and President Donald Trump eliminated or weakened.
— Start of a process to rejoin the deal restraining Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
— Executive action to end travel restrictions on people from a variety of Muslim-majority countries.
— Executive action to protect from deportation people who came to the country illegally as children.
— Executive action to make masks mandatory on federal property and when travelling out of state. Others will be asked to wear masks for 100 days.
— Steps to extend pandemic-era restrictions on evictions and foreclosures.
— Legislation to go to Congress proposing to repeal liability protections for gun manufacturers and tightening some other aspects of gun control.
— Immigration legislation to go to Congress as part of an effort to offer a path to citizenship for 11 million people in the U.S. illegally and to codify protections for people who came illegally as children.
— Education Department to be asked to extend the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for millions with student debt.
— Executive action laying out new steps to expand virus testing, protect workers and set new public health standards.
The Senate will convene at 12:00 noon today with no roll call votes expected. It is likely that Senators elect Ossoff (Georgia), Padilla (California) and Warnock (Georgia) will be sworn in at 4 pm Wednesday after the Biden Inauguration. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to transmit the article of impeachment that the House approved last week as soon as this week. But until she does, the timeline for a trial and the rules that would govern how long it would last or whether witnesses will be called are still unclear. Biden has made it clear he believes the Senate can balance both the trial, confirmation votes and consideration of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Senators have been asked to not introduce legislation until after the trial or further guidance is provided.
Discussions continue on the organizing resolution. The top two Senate leaders, Schumer and McConnell, are nearing a power-sharing agreement to hash out how the evenly divided chamber will operate, with Democrats in charge of setting the schedule but both parties likely to hold an equal number of seats on Senate committees. Similar to rules set in January 2001, Schumer and McConnell aides are discussing allowing bills and nominations to advance to the Senate floor even if they are tied during committee votes, something that could become common given that each party is expected to have the same number of seats on committees.
TODAY’S NOMINATION HEARINGS:
Given the uncertainty around the organizing resolution, it’s not clear when committee votes, and all hearings, on these and other nominees will occur.
10 a.m. The Senate Finance Committee will have a full committee hearing on the nomination of Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary at 10 a.m. Yellen won the endorsement on Tuesday of eight former Treasury secretaries, who called for her speedy Senate confirmation so that she can assume the job under President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. The letter was signed by George P. Shultz, James A. Baker III, Robert E. Rubin, Lawrence H. Summers, John W. Snow, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Timothy F. Geithner and Jacob J. Lew
10 a.m. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will also have a 10 a.m. full committee hearing on the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas to be Homeland Security secretary.
10 a.m. The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold the third 10 a.m. confirmation hearing of the day with a full committee hearing on the nomination of Avril Haines to be director of National Intelligence.
2 p.m. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have a full committee hearing at 2 p.m. on the nomination of Antony Blinken to be secretary of State.
3 p.m. The Senate Armed Services Committee will have a full committee hearing on the nomination of Lloyd Austin to be Defense secretary.
This week, the GOP Steering Committee will convene on the 21st and 22nd to finalize committee assignments. H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which addresses voting rights and election reforms, is expected to be the first major legislation that House Democrats will pass in the 117th Congress. Consideration of H.R. 1 is expected next week.