Sanders, Warren under scrutiny as Biden weighs Cabinet picks
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, leaders of the left wing of the Democratic Party, are at risk of being expelled from the higher ranks of President-elect Joe Biden's administration as the new president balances demands from his party's progressives against the base political realities of a tightly divided Senate.
The Liberal Senators of New England remain keen to serve in Biden's cabinet, but even some of their allies recognize that they face major political hurdles in getting there. Faced with disappointment, progressive leaders have reluctantly begun to express their support for less controversial alternatives.
Warren, whose political career has been shaped by efforts to reduce the power of the big banks, is the progressive movement's first choice for the Treasury Secretary. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, reiterated his desire to serve as Biden's labor secretary on Thursday, calling himself particularly well placed "to focus on the many crises that working families face in this country".
Whether or not he was inducted into Biden's cabinet, Sanders warned Biden not to freeze the progressives while he forms his government.
"It seems pretty clear to me that progressive views must be expressed within a Biden administration," Sanders told The Associated Press. "It would be hugely offensive, for example, if Biden put together a 'team of rivals' - and there is some debate about what he's up to - which could include Republicans and Conservative Democrats - but ignored the progressive community. I think that would be very, very unhappy. "
The review of Biden's personnel decisions reflects the tremendous pressure the president-elect faces as he cobbles together a high-level team to carry out his political priorities, which emerge from the various factions of his party. He will almost certainly face criticism no matter who he chooses for the most powerful positions, but perhaps least of all can afford to lose the support of his vocal progressive base.
Alluding to the left wing, Biden's transition team hired Analilia Mejia, an advisor to Sanders who served as political director for his presidential campaign, to work on progressive public relations. However, it is unlikely that intermediate-level attitudes during the transition will be sufficient to satisfy the progressives.
Biden told reporters Thursday that he had completed his election as finance minister, saying the election was "someone who is accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, moderate and progressive". He avoided a specific question when Sanders joined his cabinet as he walked off the stage.
Biden is likely facing a divided Congress that could buck the vast majority of his agenda and is planning a series of executive measures that will need to be put in place by his cabinet to bring about significant changes in health, banking, environmental regulation, immigration and foreign policy force. among other important issues.
Biden's transition team declined to comment publicly on Sanders or Warren.
And while the progressives haven't given up hope that one or both of them might still be nominated, they recognized the possibility - even the likelihood - that the high-profile Liberal Senators would remain in the Senate.
"It's safe to say that Elizabeth Warren definitely deserves the trust and ear of Joe Biden and will certainly play an influential role in setting the agenda, whether it is a very powerful Senator or a more formal role in his administration acts, "he told Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, one of Warren's most vocal supporters in Washington. "No matter what, she will be powerful in setting the agenda for the Democratic Party."
Waleed Shahid, a spokesman for the Sanders-sponsored Justice Democrats, said his group and others recognized that "not every single member of the government will be progressive - this is not Joe Biden." He said progressives simply want adequate representation "in the cabinet.
"We advocate that they be included, but we also have the option to make backups," he said of Warren and Sanders.
In fact, liberal groups have sought to rally behind lesser-known progressive leaders like Michigan MP Andy Levin for the Secretary of Labor and former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to run the Treasury Department.
Like their party's establishment leaders, the progressives understand the political challenge that Democrats would face if Sanders or Warren left the Senate. In both cases, the Republican governors would have the opportunity, at least in the short term, to name their successors.
Sanders noted that Vermont Governor Phil Scott has promised to fill a potential position with an independent who will negotiate with Democrats, just like Sanders.
"Gov. Scott is a moderate Republican. He's not a real Republican, ”said Sanders. "He understands that this is a progressive state and that it would be wise and appropriate to have as a preliminary appointment before the special election someone whose views match mine."
At best for Democrats, the Senate would split 50:50 on January when the new Congress is sworn in, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could break the tie. But that is only possible if the Democrats win both special elections in Georgia on January 5th.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has great influence over Biden's cabinet candidates, regardless of which party is in control.
The Senate top Republican has yet to shake hands on how he will steer the verification process and prefers to wait for Trump to accept the election results and for the Senate elections to take place in Georgia. But Senate Democrats expect McConnell to put a sweeping blockade on cabinet elections, which he doesn't like.
Biden will be the first modern Democratic president to try to establish a government for the first term without his party controlling the Senate. This rare dynamic will take place before a bitterly divided nation and a bipartisan Senate.
The more controversial potential candidates, including Warren and Sanders, would likely struggle to get confirmation. Some of them are already facing party political opposition.
Ted Cruz, Texas GOP Senator, has produced a series of campaign-style videos against Warren and Sanders.
However, there is also evidence of opposition from Biden's own coalition, which includes moderate Democrats, Independents, and even some Republicans.
"The election of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders to represent the far left - and in Bernie's case an openly socialist view of the world - is not the leadership the American people just voted for," said Jennifer Horn, co-founder of the Anti -Trump Lincoln Project that spent millions supporting Biden's presidential bid, "I think Joe Biden understands."
Washington-based AP writers Lisa Mascaro and Chris Rugaber contributed to this.
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