Ambitious Senate Republicans are taking potshots at President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet choices — setting up the potential for bruising confirmation battles in the early days of the new administration.
“What a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech sellouts,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) snarked on Twitter this week, after Biden introduced his picks for diplomatic and security positions.
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, an influential member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, piled on.
“Sounds a lot like a return of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, and that foreign policy had disastrous consequences for our nation,” Cotton told Fox News Wednesday, singling out Homeland Security Secretary-in-waiting Alejandro Mayorkas as a particular target.
All of Biden’s initial nominees — including Mayorkas, Antony Blinken for secretary of state, and Jake Sullivan for White House national security adviser — had high-powered roles in the last Democratic administration.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) slammed the group as “orderly caretakers of America’s decline” in a fiery tweet.
“I support American greatness,” Rubio added. “And I have no interest in returning to the ‘normal’ that left us dependent on China.”
All three senators are already jockeying for position in the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination race, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found last week — but far behind President Trump, who retains the support of a majority of Republicans.
Still, a series of Senate nomination fights will give the hopefuls a tempting stage, The Hill reported.
“What they’re doing right now is picking their niche issues,” GOP strategist Ryan James Gidursky told The Post.
“The issue that Josh Hawley is the most Trump-y on is big tech issues, so he’s speaking about that,” Gidursky said. “For Tom Cotton, it’s immigration.”
Cotton’s criticism of Mayorkas centered on his involvement in a 2012 scheme to give green cards to politically connected Chinese nationals that was criticized by the DHS inspector general in 2015. “That is disqualifying to lead the Department of Homeland Security,” Cotton said.
Hawley singled out Blinken, who has “backed every endless war since the Iraq invasion,” the senator tweeted. “Now he works for #BigTech and helps companies break into #China.”
“They all have reasonable concerns,” Gidursky said.
But while the US Constitution provides that the Senate must give its “advice and consent” to a president’s top nominees, legislators traditionally give great leeway to the incoming commander-in-chief — even when the executive branch is in the opposing party’s hands.
“The Senate really never defeats someone unless they have a big issue,” Gidursky said.
“If they were serious about trying to defeat one of these nominations, they would pick one and all focus around it,” he added. “The fact that they are dividing their attention makes it look like they are just going after niche issues for the base.”