Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer praised Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday for a steady pace in confirming President Biden’s Cabinet picks, noting the parties also need to work together on COVID-19 relief.
His comments come as the Senate is expected to confirm Antony Blinken, Mr. Biden‘s nominee for secretary of state, Tuesday afternoon.
“We are off to a decent pace,” the New York Democrat said. “I appreciate the Republican leader’s cooperation and hope it will continue because the country needs that.”
Thus far, the chamber has confirmed Mr. Biden‘s secretaries of Defense, Treasury and director of national intelligence.
The Senate will also hold confirmation votes for the secretaries of Homeland Security and Transportation this week.
Mr. Schumer said nominees for Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development will soon follow so leadership can be in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic and financial crisis hitting American families.
Democrats have urged the chamber to continue filling Mr. Biden’s administration, as the impeachment trial, set to begin the week of Feb. 8, for former President Trump will take up a significant amount of the chamber’s time and resources.
The bipartisan effort on processing nominees is new to the upper chamber, as Republicans repeatedly criticized Democrats during the prior administration for slow-walking Mr. Trump’s picks.
Mr. McConnell, meanwhile, praised Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona Democrat, on Tuesday for vowing not to blow up the legislative filibuster, which requires a 60-vote threshold to pass bills.
Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, has also been vocally resistant about ending the rule requiring bipartisanship.
Some Democrats have called for altering the filibuster since the Senate is split 50-50 between parties.
“Basic arithmetic now ensures there are not enough votes to break the rule,” Mr. McConnell said.
The Kentucky Republican added that the filibuster ensures laws do not swing dramatically in one direction or allow for a “scorched earth Senate.”
Mr. Schumer, though, did take a swipe at Mr. McConnell, saying under his leadership the chamber became a “legislative graveyard,” noting the House sent over more than 260 bills that the Republicans refused to act on under Mr. Trump’s administration.
Under his leadership, Mr. Schumer said the focus will be on confirming Mr. Biden‘s nominees, holding Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial and passing emergency COVID-19 relief.
“We have to get big, bold things done,” he said.