Biden team says US ‘cannot afford gaps in national security leadership,’ urges Senate to confirm nominees

closePresident-elect Biden promises immigration bill, pause on deportationsVideo

President-elect Biden promises immigration bill, pause on deportations

FOX News correspondent Peter Doocy joins 'Special Report' with the latest from Wilmington, Del.

Biden transition officials said the U.S. "cannot afford gaps in national security leadership," urging the Senate Republicans to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s key nominees ahead of Inauguration Day.

In a statement to Fox News on Monday, Biden transition spokesman Andrew Bates told Fox News, "Our national security is at stake as the United States fights its way out of this unprecedented public health crisis and historic economic downturn."


"And in the face of urgent threats, including more actions planned by violent extremists after the storming of the Capitol, we cannot afford gaps in national security leadership or more delays on the part of Senate Republicans," Bates continued.

The Senate Finance Committee announced Wednesday that the panel would hold a hearing for Biden Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen on Jan. 19.

On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee scheduled a hearing for Biden nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, also for Jan. 19.

But the Senate has yet to schedule hearings for the Biden nominee for director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines; nominee for defense secretary, Gen. Lloyd Austin; or nominee for homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas.

"While a few hearings have now been scheduled, the American people deserve assurances that swift floor votes will follow," Bates said. "Progress towards confirmations still lags significantly behind where it was at this point during the last two presidential transitions, and it is essential that key national security and economic leaders are confirmed and in place on day one."

The Senate has traditionally confirmed national security nominees ahead of Inauguration Day.

"They should be confirmed as close to Jan. 20 as possible," Biden said last week. "There should be no vacancies at State, Defense, and Treasury and Homeland Security."

During the Trump transition, hearings for Trump national security nominees began during the week of Jan. 10, 2017, and on Trump's Inauguration Day, his nominees for defense secretary and DHS secretary were confirmed.

But a source familiar with the process told Fox News that following a presidential election year, the Senate traditionally passes an organizing resolution, which includes the nuts and bolts for committees which would conduct the hearings for nominees, and details how the Senate will conduct itself for the next two years.


Due to the Georgia Senate runoff elections and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, however, the source told Fox News that negotiations on a power-share agreement are still ongoing. The source said committees will likely begin holding hearings to consider the nominees in the coming days.

The push comes as Trump’s acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, resigned from his post, and as security operations for Biden’s inauguration begin ahead of schedule.

Hours before his resignation, Wolf said that the Secret Service would begin its National Special Security Event operations on Jan. 13, instead of Jan. 19. Wolf said the change was made "in light of events of the past week and the evolving security landscape."

An official familiar with the push told Fox News that a swift Senate confirmation for Mayorkas to lead DHS would send a strong message that it understands there are unprecedented and urgent threats to the U.S.

Meanwhile, a federal law enforcement source told Fox News that there is an internal FBI memo circulating that warns of plans for armed protests in all 50 state capital cities ahead of Biden’s inauguration.

The memo warned that the protests could be before, on and after Inauguration Day.

The change in security plans come after last week’s Capitol riot, which left five people dead, including one Capitol Police officer.

Original Article