Biden under pressure to avoid weakening Democrats’ House majority with Cabinet nominations

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is already dealing with a major numbers disaster after House Democrats took a beating in the 2020 election, losing seat after seat at a time when a “blue wave” was expected to wash over the lower chamber.

According to the Associated Press, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has announced several key staffing and Cabinet picks that will be drafted straight from the Democrat-controlled House, may be forced to strategically make those picks in such a fashion as to not completely dwindle House Democrat numbers even further. 

What’s the problem?

Biden has named a number of House Democrats to either Cabinet positions or other key White House staffing positions. As we all witnessed in the aftermath of the 2020 election, blue seats in the House were turned red many more times than Democrats expected, leaving the party with a razor-thin majority.

The former vice president tapped Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) for Secretary of the Interior, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) for a senior adviser position, and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) as Secretary of Housing.

All three nominees will leave vacant seats in Pelosi’s already-slim 222-211 majority margin, with some seats still up in the air, leaving the Speaker with potential issues, especially as Congress attempts to pass Biden’s proposed legislation in his first 100 days in office.

Adding to the developing problem are the number of moderate Democrats who are involved in some level of party infighting with the Speaker over her seeming unwillingness to tamp down on the radical progressive House Democrats who were blamed for the failure of the “blue wave,” according to the Washington Post.

It will only take a handful of Democrats breaking from the party line, which has certainly happened before, to completely wreck Pelosi and Biden’s chances of cramming through their wishlist of legislative policies.

There’s a plan for that

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), who’s part of Pelosi’s leadership team, suggested a plan to manage the shrinking number of Democrats as they’re drafted into the big leagues of a Biden White House.

The plan is a relatively simple one, it’s just all about timing. Clyburn wants Biden to stagger the nominations in order to provide ample time for vacated seats to be filled by new Democrats.

Richmond would be tapped to join Biden’s administration right off the bat, as his position doesn’t require U.S. Senate confirmation. Haaland and Fudge would then be tapped for their respective positions after March, which would be after a special election in Louisiana to fill Richmond’s seat.

Both of them could remain in their House positions with full voting capabilities until they are confirmed by the Senate. They would likely be nominated and pushed to Senate confirmation in the months after, leaving ample time to fill each seat.

While Clyburn and other Democrats are carefully considering their options, the seats that will be vacated by the promoted lawmakers are in Democrat-heavy districts. But given what happened in the 2020 election, there’s still at least some uncertainty of whether or not those seats will be filled by Democratic replacements.

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