The Senators

Some Republican Senators have made it their mission to obstruct as many Biden nominees as possible, earning them a coveted spot in the Republican Obstruction Hall of Fame. Here are some of the officials who will be remembered as the top obstructionists in the Senate during a time of resounding crisis:

Senator Josh Hawley


Senator Hawley is the only senator to oppose every one of Biden’s Cabinet secretaries and most of his Cabinet-level officials, voting against 19 of these qualified nominees. Even before Inauguration Day, Hawley was working to obstruct the incoming administration by spreading baseless lies about widespread voter fraud without providing any evidence. His actions helped incite a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that resulted in multiple deaths. Even after the violence, Hawley stood by his decision to vote to overturn a democratically-held election, further sowing doubt in his far-right supporters. When his efforts to overturn the election results failed, Hawley kept up his obstruction, preventing the new administration from being able to hit the ground running on day one.

Hawley obstruction Top Hits:
  • Hawley blocked a quick confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas, President Biden’s nominee for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amid multiple national security crises, including the violent insurrection he helped incite at the U.S. Capitol.
  • In a rare warning, the DHS alerted to heightened threats from violent extremists emboldened by the assault on the Capitol for weeks. Hawley did not see a reason to expedite the filling of the very post that is responsible for stopping future insurrectionist attacks against our country.
  • Hawley voted against every single Biden Cabinet secretary nominee and most Cabinet-level officials.
Some of our work to hold Hawley accountable:

Senator Ted Cruz


Senator Ted Cruz played a pivotal role in sowing doubt to the far right that helped inspire the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Cruz continued down the path of obstruction during the confirmation process, voting against 18 of Biden’s nominees.  

Cruz obstruction Top Hits:
  • Ahead of Mayorkas’ confirmation for DHS Secretary, Cruz wrote a letter to his Republican colleagues urging them to join him in voting against the nominee. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed Cruz for this attempt, observing that disagreeing with Mayorkas on policy was “not a sufficient reason to oppose a nomination for a position as important as Homeland Security.”
  • Mayorkas wasn’t the only national security nominee Cruz worked to obstruct. He single-handedly held up the confirmation of William Burns, Biden’s pick for CIA Director, who would eventually go on to be confirmed with bipartisan support.
  • Cruz signed a letter penned by fellow obstructionist Senator Tom Cotton urging President Biden to pick a different nominee for HHS Secretary in a bad-faith call to “unite the country.”
  • During Xavier Becerra’s hearing to be confirmed as HHS Secretary, Cruz took to the Senate floor with a speech riddled with false, exaggerated, and purposefully misleading information on Becerra’s background and personal political beliefs.
  • Cruz insisted the role should be filled by a scientist or doctor, even though just four years ago he proactively supported Alex Azar, Trump’s nominees for HHS and a former executive at pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.
  • Cruz held up the confirmation of Gina Raimondo, President Biden’s pick to run the Department of Commerce.
Some of our work to hold Cruz accountable:

Senator Rick Scott


As if joining Hawley and Cruz in the effort to overturn a democratically-held election wasn’t enough, Senator Rick Scott is tied with Cruz for third-most votes to oppose Biden’s nominees, with 18 votes against the many qualified nominees.  

Scott obstruction top hits:
  • After voting to overturn a democratically-held election, Scott began ramping up efforts to obstruct the incoming administration’s Cabinet confirmations when he refused to answer whether he believes President-elect Biden’s Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary nominee, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and other Cabinet picks deserved a floor vote in the Senate.
  • Scott also threatened an “uphill battle” for Biden’s nominees, giving us a sneak peek into his obstruction when he admitted “I can’t imagine supporting them” citing concerns for the national debt.
  • Before President Biden even formally announced her nomination, Scott came out against Neera Tanden to run the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), calling her “terrible choice” and a “big-government, big-spending radical liberal.
  • Analysis conducted by the Accountable Senate War Room found that Republican senators tended to use harsher language when referring to President Biden’s nominees of color, often painting them as extreme and “radical.”
Some of our work to hold Scott accountable:

Senator Tom Cotton


Senator Tom Cotton has voted against 17 of President Biden’s qualified nominees, and worked to slow down the process of filling some of the top national security and public safety roles in our government.  

Cotton obstruction top hits:
  • Ahead of Inauguration Day, Cotton threatened to obstruct President-elect Biden’s nominees, and pushed his fellow Republicans to join him in opposing Xavier Becerra’s nomination as HHS secretary.
  • Cotton felt so strongly about Becerra that he even used his own funds to launch false and misleading attack ads against Becerra in an effort to tank his confirmation.
  • In response, Accountable Senate War Room launched its own ad to set the record straight on who Cotton was really advocating for in his fight against Becerra: Big Pharma.
  • To further obstruct the confirmation of Merrick Garland for Attorney General, Cotton blocked an effort to expedite the nominee, delaying the inevitable confirmation by a few days. Cotton knew this effort was bound to fail, and this useless delay was even a breach from top Senate Republicans like Minority Leader McConnell and Senator Chuck Grassley who publicly supported Garland’s nomination.
Some of our work to hold Cotton accountable:

Senator Rand Paul


Senator Paul voted against 14 of President Biden’s nominees. Most notably, Paul was in strong opposition to Xavier Becerra, Biden’s pick for HHS secretary. From nearly the moment his nomination was announced, Paul worked to sully Becerra’s name and track record in a slew of false and misleading statements on the nominee’s personal political beliefs.  

Paul obstruction top hits:
  • Paul used Fox News to propagate extreme and misleading claims about Becerra’s personal political positions on reproductive health to rile his right-wing base.
  • Instead of focusing on the important task of confirming the country’s top Health official, Paul continuously downplayed the pandemic by refusing to wear a mask. During the worst public health crisis in a generation and as a member of the Senate’s health committee, Paul had a responsibility to work swiftly to confirm the now-HHS Secretary, but instead used his position to attempt to undermine the department’s work by publicly supporting and spreading conspiracy theories as COVID-19 continued ravaging communities across the country.
  • Becerra wasn’t the only health nominee Paul chose to obstruct and disparage. Rachel Levine, Biden’s pick for assistant health secretary and the first transgender person to serve in a presidential Cabinet, was met with hostility from Paul, who used her hearing to publicly attack her in a slew of false and “harmful misinterpretations” against the transgender community.
Some of our work to hold Paul accountable:

Senator John Barrasso


Senator Barrasso voted against 12 of Biden’s nominees, and as ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, helped lead the concerted effort to sink Deb Haaland’s confirmation for Interior secretary. Barrasso’s opposition to Haaland was aggressive, often employing harsh language to describe her views and even yelling at her during her confirmation hearing.  

Barrasso obstruction top hits:
  • Barrasso was one of the earliest and most vocal obstructionists against President Biden’s Cabinet, promising that confirmations wouldn’t be a “garden party” for the incoming administration and that “[Biden’s] nominees are going to have to run the gauntlet.”
  • Ahead of the Georgia runoff elections, Barrasso planned out his obstruction of the incoming administration, promising, “if you want accountability and not just a rubber stamp for a Joe Biden Cabinet, you need to have people like me as Chairman of the energy committee.”
  • This planned obstruction is in direct opposition to Barrasso’s previous comments from 2017 surrounding Cabinet nominees when he said “the President coming in for his first term ought to be able to have the Cabinet. He won the election. He ought to have who he wants surrounding him.”
  • Holding true to his promise, the ranking member of the ENR Committee came out hard against Haaland for Interior secretary, claiming that “[Haaland’s] radical views are squarely at odds with the responsible management of our nation’s energy resources” and threatened to oppose her confirmation if she didn’t “demonstrate that she will follow the law.”
  • Barrasso referred to Haaland’s views as “radical” more than once, an attack that Accountable Senate War Room found to be used against Biden’s nominees of color at a significantly higher rate than white nominees
  • Barrasso got national attention after an outburst during Haaland’s confirmation hearing when he aggressively “shouted over” her, then accused the congresswoman of “wanting to legalize drugs to replace tax revenue from oil and gas,” and screamed, “I’m talking about the law!” when he felt she wasn’t answering the question to his liking.
Our work to hold Barrasso accountable:

Senator Steve Daines


Senator Daines voted against 11 of President Biden’s nominees, taking particular aim at Deb Haaland’s nomination for Secretary of the Department of the Interior. Daines’ opposition to Haaland was fierce: from launching smear campaigns against the nominee to exaggerating her personal political beliefs, to hostile and aggressive questioning during her eventual hearing. All his tactics failed, as Haaland was confirmed and with bipartisan support.  

Daines obstruction top hits:
  • Ahead of a hearing even being scheduled, Daines came out against Haaland in a statement where he claimed she would be bad for oil, gas, and coal, the very industries that Daines has accepted millions of dollars in campaign contributions from.
  • In the same statement, Daines referred to Haaland’s views as “radical” — an attack deemed a racist, sexist “dog-whistle” by the Billings Gazette Editorial Board — and threatened to block her confirmation.
  • As people went without heat for days leading to many freezing to death from the severe weather in Texas, Daines used this moment to spread misinformation regarding both Haaland’s and President Biden’s stances on oil and natural gas, furthering his baseless smear campaign against the nominee.
  • Daines’ questioning of Haaland was hostile and at times condescending. Instead of focusing on the issue at hand, Daines used his time to question Haaland over a personal grievance he had with her regarding a previous statement she made in 2018 about Republican senators not believing in science, eventually asking her to amend these comments.
Some of our work to hold Daines accountable:

These Senators were willing to waste critical time and energy – while their constituents battled dual health and economic crises – to launch bad-faith attacks against Biden’s nominees in an apparent nod to their special interest donors, many of whom could now face heightened oversight and accountability under President Biden’s historically diverse Cabinet.

Learn more about this unprecedented obstructionism in our Senate War Room.

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