Dec 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden's post-Georgia intrigue

President Biden boards Air Force One last night in Glendale, Ariz. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

After the victory lap from last night's Raphael Warnock Senate victory in Georgia, President Biden will focus on his most urgent political task.

Why it matters: Biden needs to assemble a team that can replicate the Democrats' midterm success while fending off GOP congressional investigations that will look for the weakest members of the herd, starting in the Cabinet.

Former COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients has been busy preparing options for a potential White House and Cabinet reorganization, but most decisions were on hold until Biden learned the results of Georgia.

  • Biden aides are hesitant to give Republicans any chance to litigate the administration’s policies through messy confirmation battles, especially right after the election.
  • They also don’t want any potential Cabinet shakeup to be viewed through the prism of a midterm reset. If Cabinet officials leave, it may be later in the year.

The big picture: Biden still has some 40 embassies without an ambassador, including five from Group of 20 countries, according to the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service.

  • Biden wants his State Department fully stocked to deal with an uncertain world, with the war in Ukraine continuing and the global economy flashing warning signs of a serious slowdown.

The intrigue: The Georgia win, coupled with falling gas prices and a summer of legislative success, make it more likely that Chief of Staff Ron Klain will depart, according to people familiar with the matter.

  • Klain hasn’t made a final decision, and the president as well as outside allies want him to stay.
  • But he has told colleagues that he is physically exhausted. He has lasted longer than nearly all of his predecessors in a job with punishing hours, according to Biden advisers.
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