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Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Joshua Roberts/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican-aligned opposition research group America Rising is doing all it can to prevent President Biden from seating his top Cabinet picks.

Why it matters: After former President Trump inhibited the transition, Biden is hoping the Republican minority in Congress will cooperate with getting his team in place. Biden hadn't even been sworn in when America Rising began blasting opposition research to reporters targeting Janet Yellen and Alejandro Mayorkas.

Biden’s reliance on officials who have previously served in government, many in the Obama administration, has provided a wealth of research material, according to America Rising's leaders.

  • The group currently has 15 researchers, trackers and communications operatives digging into the people who would serve in Biden's administration, with plans to expand in the near future.
  • It's already filed more than 300 FOIA requests for Obama-era records involving holdovers expected to serve in Biden’s government.

This week, America Rising dredged up past controversies involving Mayorkas, Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, during his stints in the Clinton and Obama administrations.

  • And when Yellen, who is vying to lead the Treasury Department, said during a hearing Tuesday that raising the minimum wage would result in negligible job losses, America Rising quickly sent out a 2014 clip of her predicting more dire economic consequences.
  • Whether they can succeed in blocking — or even holding up — many of Biden's picks is a separate question. The president's first Cabinet nominee, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, was confirmed hours after Biden was sworn in. And Yellen's Tuesday hearing was largely uneventful.

What we’re hearing: During an interview Tuesday, the group's executive director Cassie Smedile and deputy executive director Chris Martin spelled out its strategy and tactics heading into the Biden administration.

  • “America Rising’s work during the presidential campaign never stopped,” Martin said.
  • Smedile said: “We think it’s important to keep a focus on the people who are going to be running our government."

Be smart: The Biden team’s reliance on former Obama officials to staff its upper ranks means bringing in some big names who went through the revolving door from government service to the private sector, and now back again.

  • This provides opportunities for conflicts of interest, which, from America Rising’s perspective, means a lot of research fodder.

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Obama speechwriter fears Biden unity drive is one-sided

Cody Keenan (right) is shown heading to Marine One in December 2009. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.

What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."

Updated Feb 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden's nominees for attorney general, health and human services secretary, interior secretary, CIA director and U.S. trade representative will testify before Senate committees next week.

The big picture: Biden wants known, trusted people around him, many from the Obama administration, to help implement his policies and turn away from the tumultuous Trump years.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.