PoliticsStacy M. Brown

Is Racism Slowing U.S. Senate Confirmations of Biden Nominees?

The thought that white supremacy would ground to a much slower pace after Donald Trump left office may have been overstated.

But after the Trump-inspired deadly Capitol insurrection that also endangered the lives of Congress members and the Senate, many believed that lawmakers would work more closely toward racial tolerance.

That belief also was overstated.

With words like “radical” and “extremist” to describe individuals of color nominated to serve in President Joe Biden’s administration, confirmation has not come for many of those chosen.

And, the reason is quite apparent, the Good Ole Boys still have their way – on both sides of the aisle.

“Jeff Sessions was so openly racist that even Reagan couldn’t appoint him,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) wrote in a tweet this week to express her frustration about the Senate’s refusal to confirm Neera Tanden, an Asian-American, as budget director.

The congresswoman noted that, as attorney general, Sessions presided over the family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Yet the first Native woman to be Cabinet Sec is where Manchin finds unease?” she posted. The latter referenced West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, who opposes Tanden and other Biden nominees.

With the Senate evenly split 50-50 and all Republicans opposing the nominations, Democrats can’t afford one defection. However, Manchin has sounded more Republican than Democrat lately, opposing nominations and parts of Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation.

Ocasio-Cortez also noted that Manchin voted to confirm Sessions as Trump’s attorney general despite Sessions’ alleged racism.

Vanita Gupta, an Indian American and Biden’s associate attorney general nomination, also faces a Senate reluctant to confirm her.

An advertisement launched to oppose her painted Gupta as “dangerous.” The ad continues with images of burning businesses, rioting, and a voice-over blaming Black Lives Matter.

Xavier Becerra, whose father was an immigrant from Mexico, has also found opposition.

The first Latino attorney general of California, some senators claim that Becerra is not qualified to fill the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services’ post.

Some senators argue that Becerra is not a physician, ignoring that his predecessor, Alex Azar, appointed by Trump, also wasn’t a doctor.

Kristen Clarke, an African American nominated for assistant attorney general for civil rights, counts among the individuals of color also facing a contentious Senate confirmation.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah called Clarke “absolutely crazy.”

“The principle here is – is this fair play? Or is this just racial hazing?” questioned National Urban League President Marc Morial.

The Senate has confirmed Gen. Lloyd Austin, an African American, to lead the Department of Defense, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Alejandro Mayorkas, a Latino, also won confirmation as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

“The outcome will make it clear whether or not those individuals who are women or people of color are receiving a different level of scrutiny,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. “I hope we will course-correct, quickly, and not allow that to be a legacy of the Senate.”

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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