Which senators have been voting against Biden Cabinet nominees?

Updated March 22 at 7:13 p.m.Originally published March 3, 2021

President Biden suffered the first failure of one of his Cabinet nominees at the beginning of March, with Office and Management and Budget pick Neera Tanden withdrawing in the face of bipartisan opposition and impending defeat. Key votes including from Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) cited her highly partisan tweets, including some attacking potentially decisive senators.

To this point, though, Biden has had 21 of his 23 Cabinet nominees confirmed with relative ease. Which Republicans are voting against his picks? Who are the most dissenting senators? And which appointees received the most nays? Below, a recap.

The most frequent votes against Biden’s nominees have in most cases come from ambitious Republicans thought to be potential 2024 presidential candidates. Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) has voted against 19 of 21, while Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Rick Scott (Fla.) have voted against 18 and Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) has voted against 17.

When President Donald Trump picked his first Cabinet, five of the six senators who voted most frequently against them eventually ran for president in 2020. The sixth considered doing so.

The only picks besides Tanden who came reasonably close to defeat were Xavier Becera, Biden’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services, Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for the Department of Homeland Security, and Deb Haaland, nominee for the Department of the Interior. In Becerra’s case, 49 Republicans voted no, while 43 senators opposed Mayorkas. In Haaland’s vote, 40 Republican senators voted against her.

Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, was the only Cabinet nominee to be confirmed without any votes against her confirmation.

[We're tracking the political appointees Biden is nominating for the Cabinet and beyond]

The only nominee to lose a vote from the Democratic caucus was Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, against whom Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted.

All told, GOP opposition to Biden’s choices has been less substantial than among Democrats on Trump’s initial Cabinet picks. The average number of votes against Biden’s nominees is 22, while for Trump it was 27.

Trump had the luxury of more than 50 potential GOP votes in the Senate, though, allowing him more easily to confirm nominees with only GOP support. Former attorney general Jeff Sessions and former treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin each received just one Democratic vote — from Manchin — while Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price got none. Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos was confirmed despite losing two GOP votes and requiring a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.

A previous version of this graphic incorrectly stated that Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed as health and human services secretary. He is the homeland security secretary.

Kevin Uhrmacher and Harry Stevens contributed to this report.

Aaron Blake is senior political reporter, writing for The Fix. A Minnesota native, he has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Hill newspaper.
Adrián Blanco Ramos is a graphic reporter in the graphics department at The Washington Post. He previously worked at Spanish newspaper El Confidencial focusing on data visualization, data analysis and investigative journalism. He participated in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalist’s Paradise Papers investigation.