U.S. Senator Joni Ernst has voted against confirming twelve of President Joe Biden’s cabinet appointees, a majority of the 23 cabinet officials who are subject to Senate confirmation. Senators have confirmed 21 cabinet members; Eric Lander is awaiting a vote as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the president has yet to announce a replacement for Neera Tanden, who withdrew her nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget.
Only ten of the 50 Republican senators have voted against more of Biden’s appointees than Ernst: Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Tom Cotton, Tommy Tuberville, Bill Hagerty, Rand Paul, Richard Shelby, Marsha Blackburn, and Tim Scott.
Iowa’s senior Senator Chuck Grassley has voted against five of the 21 cabinet members confirmed so far.
Both of Iowa’s senators have voted for nine of the Democratic president’s picks:
- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (fifteen Republicans opposed)
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (two Republicans opposed)
- Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (thirteen Republicans opposed)
- Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (seven Republicans opposed)
- Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo (fifteen Republicans opposed)
- Council of Economic Advisers chair Cecilia Rouse (four Republicans opposed)
- Attorney General Merrick Garland (30 Republicans opposed)
- Small Business Administration Administator Isabel Guzman (seventeen Republicans opposed)
- U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai (she was unanimously confirmed)
Ernst and Grassley voted against five nominees:
- Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas (43 Republicans opposed)
- U.S. representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield (21 Republicans opposed)
- Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm (35 Republicans opposed)
- Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (40 Republicans opposed)
- Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra (49 Republicans opposed)
Ernst has voted against confirming seven cabinet members whom Grassley supported:
- Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines (ten Republicans opposed)
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken (22 Republicans opposed)
- Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough (seven Republicans opposed)
- Education Secretary Miguel Cardona (33 Republicans opposed)
- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge (34 Republicans opposed)
- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan (34 Republicans opposed)
- Labor Secretary Marty Walsh (30 Republicans opposed)
In addition, on March 23 Ernst was among 37 Republicans to vote against confirming Shalanda Young as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, a position one step below cabinet level. Grassley was a yes on Young.
Ernst’s office has released only one statement explaining a vote against a Biden appointee (Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan). Her staff have not responded to Bleeding Heartland’s inquiries seeking insight about her general approach to evaluating prospective cabinet members or her reasons for opposing certain officials. In communication with other reporters, staff said Ernst’s no votes on Haines and Blinken were grounded in her concerns about the multilateral Iran deal.
Some Iowans have received letters or emails explaining Ernst’s position after contacting the senator’s office about a confirmation vote; readers are encouraged to share those communications with Laura Belin.
Top image: Senator Joni Ernst questions EPA administrator nominee Michael Regan at his confirmation hearing on February 3. Screenshot from the video posted on Ernst’s official Facebook page.