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The Biden Cabinet - president-elect fills out his team

  • Published at 09:08 am December 16th, 2020
Joe Biden
File photo of US President Joe Biden REUTERS

Here are some recent important picks as well as top contenders for prominent posts

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden has begun nominating members of his Cabinet and White House team, working to fulfill his promise to build an administration that reflects the United States’ diversity.

Biden continued filling out his Cabinet Tuesday, selecting his onetime Democratic rival Pete Buttigieg to be his transportation secretary and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to run the Energy Department.

Here are some recent important picks as well as top contenders for prominent posts, according to Reuters reporting:

Secretary of State: Antony Blinken

The longtime Biden confidant served as Number 2 at the State Department and as deputy national security adviser in Obama’s administration.

Treasury Secretary: Janet Yellen

The former Federal Reserve chair deepened the central bank’s focus on workers and inequality. She has remained active in policy debates at the Brookings Institution think tank since Republican President Donald Trump replaced her as head of the central bank in 2018.

Defense Secretary: Lloyd Austin

Austin, who oversaw US forces in the Middle East under President Barack Obama, would be the first Black US secretary of defense if the Senate confirms him. He retired in 2016 and would need a waiver from Congress to take the post, as he has been out of the military less than the required seven years.

Also read: Putin congratulates Biden on US election victory

Agriculture Secretary: Tom Vilsack

Vilsack, who led the US Department of Agriculture under Obama, was Iowa’s governor from 1999 until 2007. He was an early supporter of Biden and an adviser on rural issues during his campaign. Vilsack’s return to the USDA is likely to be applauded by Midwestern states that produce the bulk of commodity crops like corn, soybeans and wheat, and prefer him to someone from another region of the country.

Health and Human Services Secretary: Xavier Becerra

The California attorney general was previously a 12-term congressman who played a key role in passing the Affordable Care Act in Congress. As attorney general, he has led a coalition of 20 states defending the program better known as Obamacare, including in a case before the US Supreme Court last month.

Housing and Urban Development: Marcia Fudge

Fudge has served in the House of Representatives since 2008. Prior to being elected to Congress, she was mayor of Warrensville Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. If confirmed, Fudge would be the second Black woman to lead HUD, which focuses on federal policy surrounding housing.

Transportation Secretary: Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg is the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and was one of Biden’s rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. He could be tasked with overseeing much of Biden’s plan to boost infrastructure spending, including building electric vehicle charging stations and boosting spending on high-speed rail.

Energy Secretary: Jennifer Granholm

Granholm, 61, served as the first female governor of Michigan, from 2003 to 2011. In 2009, when Biden was vice president under President Barack Obama, she worked with his office on the bailout of auto manufacturers during the Great Recession.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Denis Mcdonough

McDonough was the White House chief of staff during Obama’s second term. He spent the early part of his career an aide to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, before advising Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign on foreign policy and then serving as deputy national security adviser.

Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas

The Cuban-born lawyer will be the first Latino and first immigrant to head the department if confirmed as secretary of homeland security. As head of Citizenship and Immigration Services under Obama, Mayorkas led implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for “Dreamers” - people who were brought to the United States as children. DACA drew Republican criticism and could lead to Republican opposition to Mayorkas in the Senate.

Ambassador to the United Nations: Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Biden’s nominee to become the next US ambassador to the United Nations is Thomas-Greenfield, who will take on a job that Biden plans to restore to a Cabinet level. She is a Black woman who served as Obama’s top diplomat on Africa from 2013 to 2017, leading US policy in Africa south of the Sahara during the West African Ebola outbreak.

United States Trade Representative: Katherine Tai

The House Ways and Means Committee lawyer played a key role in negotiating stronger labor provisions with the Trump administration in the new US-Mexico-Canada trade deal. Tai, who will lead trade talks with China, previously worked at the office she will now run, heading China trade enforcement from 2011 to 2014. The Yale and Harvard-educated Chinese American speaks Mandarin and taught university English for two years in Guangzhou.

White House Domestic Policy Council Director: Susan Rice

The experienced national security official has served as US ambassador to the United Nations and as an assistant secretary of state, and was national security advisor during Obama’s second term. Rice had been on Biden’s short list as a possible vice presidential pick or secretary of state.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director: Rochelle Walensky

Walensky, currently the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will take a prominent role in the Biden administration’s fight against the coronavirus.

Also Read- Trump will be gone, but trauma of 2020 may haunt Biden

Coronavirus Coordinator: Jeff Zients

Zients, an economic adviser touted for his managerial skills, was tapped to save the bungled launch of the Affordable Care Act’s website for Obama. Under Biden, he will oversee an unprecedented operation to distribute hundreds of millions of doses of a new vaccine, coordinating efforts across multiple federal agencies.

Surgeon General: Vivek Murthy

A physician and former surgeon general, Murthy gained prominence in recent months as co-chairman of Biden’s advisory board dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which the president-elect has pledged to make his top priority.

Office of Management and Budget: Neera Tanden

Tanden, president of the progressive Center for American Progress think tank, helped create Obamacare, which Republicans want to demolish.

Council of Economic Advisers Chair: Cecilia Rouse

Rouse is a labor economist and dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs whose research has focused on the economics of education and tackling wealth inequality. She was a member of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2009 to 2011.

National Economic Council Director: Brian Deese

The Obama administration veteran helped lead efforts to bail out the automotive industry during the 2009 financial crisis and helped negotiate the landmark Paris climate accord.

National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan

Biden’s national security adviser when he served as vice president to Obama, Sullivan also served as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines

Deputy national security adviser under Obama, and previously the first woman to serve as CIA deputy director, Haines is Biden’s nominee for director of national intelligence. Haines held several posts at Columbia University after leaving the outgoing Obama administration in 2017.

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate: John Kerry

Former US Senator and Secretary of State Kerry will act as “climate czar” in the Biden administration. Kerry helped negotiate the Paris climate deal that Biden wants to re-join.

Domestic Climate Policy Coordinator: Gina Mccarthy

McCarthy is the head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a national environmental group. She ran the Environmental Protection Agency under Obama and managed some of the administration’s signature rules for air and water pollution, including the Clean Power Plan to cut emissions from electric plants that the Trump administration has worked to rescind.

White House Chief of Staff: Ron Klain

A longtime Biden adviser with experience in responding to the Ebola pandemic, Klain was picked for the chief of staff role that sets the president’s agenda.

Also read: Electoral College confirms Biden's victory over Trump

Top contenders for roles yet to be filled

Interior Secretary

Deb Haaland - The US representative from New Mexico appears to be Biden’s top choice to lead the Interior Department. Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe and one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.

Attorney General

Sally Yates - A former deputy attorney general, Yates was briefly the acting attorney general early in Trump’s term before being fired for insubordination for refusing to defend travel restrictions targeting seven Muslim-majority nations.

Doug Jones - A former federal prosecutor with a strong civil rights record, he won a US Senate seat in a 2017 special election in deeply conservative Alabama. Jones was defeated in the November 3 election by Republican Tommy Tuberville.

Tom Perez - A former labor secretary and one-time head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. His name has been floated though he might face an uphill battle for confirmation in the US Senate if it remains in Republican control.

Environmental Protection Agency

Heather McTeer Toney - A former regional administrator of the EPA under Obama, the clean-air activist is national field director for Moms Clean Air Force. A favorite of progressives, Toney has advocated and trained officials on leadership and climate in over 15 countries, including Kenya, France, Portugal, Nigeria and Senegal.

Mary Nichols - The former assistant administrator for the EPA during former President Bill Clinton’s administration is chairwoman of California’s Air Resources Board, which regulates air pollution in the state.

Collin O’Mara – The CEO of the National Wildlife Federation served as an energy and environment adviser to Biden. O’Mara was the youngest person to head up the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, from 2009 to 2014.

Central Intelligence Agency

Michael Morell - He was the CIA’s deputy director and acting director of the agency twice under Obama. Morell is now the chairman of the geopolitical risk practice at Beacon Global Strategies, a Washington consulting firm.

Tom Donilon - The veteran diplomat and former national security adviser under Obama helped steer a White House agenda that increased the US focus on the relationship with Asia. Donilon, a longtime adviser to Biden, worked on Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1988.

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