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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Republicans are making plans to torpedo some of President-elect Biden's prospective Cabinet, agency and judicial nominees if the GOP keeps its majority, aides involved in the discussions tell me.

What we're hearing: Top targets include political names and civil servants who spoke out loudest against President Trump, forced out his appointees or became stars in the impeachment hearings — like Sally Yates and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — as well as longtime targets of conservative media, like Susan Rice.

  • Targets also include more obscure potential nominees for federal judgeships, solicitor general and the Supreme Court. Republicans worry these nominees could blunt conservative moves on deregulation or social policy.

Driving the news: With Biden planning to announce his first slate of Cabinet picks this week, Senate GOP staffers are closely following reports of floated names, gathering opposition research and even planning potential hearing questions, staffers familiar with the processes in two separate Senate committees tell me.

  • Some leaked names are labeled "really objectionable," and Republican staffers have begun circulating research to members to try to preempt their nomination altogether.
  • These preparations are very preliminary, given that Trump hasn't conceded, his GSA administration has blocked the transition from the beginning and Republicans haven't begun meeting with Biden's team.

Between the lines: Of course, this doesn't mean doom for such nominees. Even if the GOP did retain a bare majority of control after two remaining runoffs in Georgia in January, a few Republicans could cross party lines.

  • And several Republicans — including Sens. Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Pat Toomey — still believe in the longstanding norm that presidents should get the cabinets they want unless there are truly legitimate concerns about a nominee.
  • This is particularly true in nominations that touch on two areas — national security and health care — one GOP leadership aide said, given Biden's immediate demands being driven by the pandemic.
  • "He's entitled to have those agencies running, especially at this time," the aide said. "It doesn’t seem sustainable nor politically smart to block someone in those roles."

Don Ritchie, the Senate's former historian, said presidents historically have gotten "about 95% of their nominations through."

What they're saying: "There is historic urgency for Republicans and Democrats to work together in this moment of unprecedented crisis," Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said.

What we're watching: Some Democrats have discussed the idea of Biden choosing a "sacrificial lamb" for Republicans to take down, thus easing the passage of other nominees.

  • That could give Republicans the opportunity to show they wield power, while simultaneously making Biden's other nominees look more agreeable in a hyper-partisan environment.
  • But some people around Biden say a move like that isn't his style.

Go deeper

Senate Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a closely divided Congress, the Senate’s Mischief Makers could thwart their leaders' best-laid plans with their own agendas.

Why it matters: On Wednesday night, we shared a list of House members who our leadership sources on the Hill consider some of the top troublemakers. But their Senate counterparts may be even more impactful in a 50-50 chamber, where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tiebreaking vote.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

2 hours ago - World

Australian PM pledges $700M for climate change-threatened Great Barrier reef

A green sea turtle is flourishing among the corals at Lady Elliot island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday a AU$1 billion ($703 million) investment plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

Why it matters: The nine-year plan for projects including water quality improvement, reef conservation and supporting some 64,000 tourism jobs comes months ahead of this year's federal election. It has been criticized by scientists and environmental groups for failing to tackle climate change.