President-elect Joe Biden’s nominees to head the departments of Defense (DoD) and Homeland Security (DHS) are lined up for Senate committee-level confirmation hearings on Jan. 19 – one day before Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing on the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas as DHS Secretary at 10 a.m. on Jan. 19. Later in the day at 3 p.m., the Senate Armed Services Committee will consider the nomination of Lloyd Austin III as Defense Secretary. The Senate Finance Committee will also hold a Jan. 19 hearing to consider the nomination of Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary.

It remains unclear when the full Senate may meet to consider those nominations or any others submitted by the incoming Biden administration. Current Senate scheduling indicates that senators will not come back into session until Jan. 19, and after they do, control of the legislative agenda will shift to Senate Democrats.

The Biden administration is expected to name its cabinet-level nominees as acting secretaries of their agencies once he takes office on Jan. 20, pending official Senate consideration of the nominations.

“The Senate must also fulfill its constitutional duty to advise and consent on the President-elect Biden’s executive and judicial nominations, particularly his cabinet,” said incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in a Jan. 12 “Dear Colleague” letter.

“The violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th showed us we need qualified Senate-confirmed people (not in an acting capacity) in key national security positions on Day One, including Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and others,” Sen. Schumer said

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.