“I think this is where our Republican colleagues highlight their ideological issues, and they differ more here than on several of the foreign policy issues,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat. “This is where they want to carry their messages and their arguments. They use their domestic nominees as a tool for them to do so.”
“It’s not a concerted effort,” said Sen. John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican. “We have not had discussions that I am aware of about any kind of strategy. I think most people just considered the nominees on merit and let the chips fall where they had to.”
Democrats argue that it is not uncommon for the first nominees in an administration to move faster and more evenly, but given that Democrats have no margin for error, the battles for nominees are fighting to be closer calls than some previous administrations .
“By and large in the short decade I have been here, the nominees for national security – whether it is the Secretary of Defense or the Attorney General – get a greater degree of reverence because there is more of a two-party sense of urgency. by allowing a president to choose their own candidate over the domestic ones, ”said Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat.
The Biden administration has not yet lost a single candidate. The White House has made it clear that it stands by the Tooth’s nomination, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, has left the door open to back the Tooth and tells reporters Tuesday that she would only make a decision after Budget and the Homeland Security Committees had voted Wednesday to advance the nomination.
But Tanden’s fight to win support in the Senate, even though it was unique given her story of tweets attacking Republicans, is also a reflection of how narrow the majority for Democrats is. Democrats can’t afford layoffs in their own party, and if they do, they need Republicans to make up for the difference, something that’s harder to find with some of Biden’s recent nominees.
At the start of Becerra’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday, North Carolina Sen. Republican Sen. Richard Burr said bluntly, “I’m not sold yet.”
“I’m not sure you have the necessary experience or skills to do the job at the moment,” Burr said.
Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah where questions about public lands have become a political lightning rod in recent years, said he was not sure if Haaland was the right person for the job.
“I have voted for almost all of the president’s nominees so far, but Congresswoman Haaland and Neera Tanden present some real questions and challenges,” Romney said.
Manchin, the chair of the energy committee, has also not said whether he will support Haaland, who supported the Green New Deal when she was in Congress, a policy that Manchin himself does not support.
“We have to end the hearing,” Manchin said. “I think she’s been fine.”
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate Democrat from Arizona, has also not said whether she will support Haaland or Tanden.
The next few weeks may be a test of whether Democratic leadership can hold the election rally as Republican attacks on nominees increase and fewer Republican votes are available to bolster Democratic layoffs.
“It’s a narrow majority, 50/50 is pretty tight,” said Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, about the delicate math.
CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report.