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  • Writer's pictureEloise Robertson

Filling the Cabinet: Biden Forges Ahead

President elect Joe Biden has already started filling his cabinet and meeting with key officials despite President Trump refusing to concede the election. Biden has been choosing well respected officials that have worked in the Obama administration and some in the Clinton administration. His choices are likely to be approved by congress regardless of a republican or democratic majority because they are experienced officials known for professionalism. Biden’s picks for his cabinet and key officials marks a shift in both domestic and international policies to value internationalism and stability. Many of the candidates are women and people of color which could create the most diverse cabinet this country has ever seen. Some progressives argue that Biden’s picks will not do radical reforms and are not progressive enough. So far from Biden’s named officials, it is clear Biden is taking the economy and climate change seriously as he has officials who worked on the Ebola crisis and were key in economic recovery during the 2008 recession. Biden named Linda Greenfield, an African American woman, to be ambassador to the United Nations and Alejandro Mayorkas, first Cuban-American, to be secretary of homeland security which shows his increased efforts to form a diverse cabinet. In the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see how Biden fills the remaining spots in his cabinet and whether he will continue to value diverse and experienced individuals. Here is a snapshot of the named officials and possible candidates for President elect Biden’s cabinet and senior advisors.

Chief of Staff (named):

Ron Klain

-Worked as “Ebola czar” as coordinator for the epidemic under President Obama

-Served as chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore

-Worked as senior adviser to the Biden campaign

Secretary of State (named):

Anthony Blinken

-Former deputy secretary of state and longtime Biden foreign policy aide

-worked under President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama as deputy national security advisor (2013-2015) and deputy secretary of state (2015-2017)

Ambassador of the United Nations (named):

Linda Thomas-Greenfield

-Woman of color and was was the most senior black US diplomat until Trump fired her

-Served as the top U.S. diplomat to africa under President Obama

-Retired in 2017 after Trump took power and joined the albright Stonebridge advisory firm as a senior counselor

Director of national intelligence (named):

Avril Haines

-Former deputy chief of the CIA

-Deputy national security adviser and deputy chief counsel to Senate Democrats

-Would be the first woman to head the intelligence community

Secretary of the Treasury (named):

Janet Yellen

-Would be first woman to be secretary of the treasury

-served as chair of the Federal Reserve Board from 2014-2018

Secretary of Homeland Security (named):

Alejandro Mayorkas

-Former Obama immigration and homeland security official

-Works as an attorney at the D.C. law firm WilmerHale and as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service during President Obama’s first term

-Worked as DHS deputy secretary for President Obama’s second term

-Would be first Latino to run department of Homeland Security

Special presidential envoy for climate (named):

John Kerry

-Served as Secretary of State under President Obama

-Has worked on climate issues for years and played a key role in negotiating the Paris agreement

-Co-founded a bipartisan initiative of world leaders and celebrities to combat the climate crisis

-He marks a shift from the Trump administration ignoring climate change to the Biden administration, who is prioritizing climate change

National security advisor (named) :

Jake Sullivan

-worked as head of policy planning and deputy chief of staff for Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state

-Played a key role in negotiating the Iran nuclear deal

Secretary of Agriculture Candidates:

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D)

-Congresswoman from Illinois and member of the House Agriculture Commmittee

-She lead House Democrats’ campaign arm in the 2020 cycle

Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D)

-Congresswoman from Ohio since 2008 and chairs the House Agriculture Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations Subcommittee, and the House Agriculture Committee

Heidi Heitkamp

-Former senator from North Dakota

-Served on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and started the One Country Project (a program to help Democrats appeal to rural voters)

Secretary of Defense Candidates:

Micheéle Flournoy

-first woman to be secretary of defense

-Worked as the under secretary of defense for policy under President Obama

-In the mid-1990’s, she worked as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense and is the co-founder of the Center for a New American Security

Tammy Duckworth

-Junior senator from Illinois

-An Iraq war veteran

-Was the first Thai-American woman elected to Congress, and the first female double-amputee in the US Senate and the first senator to give birth while in office

-Worked as the assistant secretary of the US Department of Veterans Affairs under President Obama

Jeh Johnson

-Served as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama from 2013 to 2017

-Served as general counsel of the Department of the Air Force under President Clinton

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Candidates:

Patrick Murphy

-First Iraq War veteran elected to Congress

-Served on the House Armed Services, Select Intelligence and Appropriations committees, and the 32nd under secretary of the Army under President Obama

Pete Buttigieg

-Former mayor of South Bend, Indiana

-Retired intelligence officer in U.S. Navy Reserve

Jason Kander

-President of Veterans Community Project and former Missouri secretary of state and state House member

-Retired captain in the Army National Guard

Secretary of the Interior Candidates:

Deb Haaland

-Congresswoman from New Mexico and one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress

-Vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and leads the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands

-Would be first Native American Cabinet secretary

Tom Udall

-Senior senator from New Mexico and was the US representative for the state’s 3rd Congressional District

-Served as chief counsel to the New Mexico Department of Health and Environment

-Fought for stronger environmental and health protections

Senator Martin Heinrich

-New Mexico senator and former New Mexico congressman

-Played key role in getting two major public lands packages

-Former state natural resources trustee

Secretary of Commerce Candidates:

Mellody Hobson

-Co-CEO of Ariel Investments and sits on the board of JPMorgan Chase

-Chairwoman of DreamWorks Animation

-Predominant African American business executive

Terry McAuliffe

-Former governor of Virginia and former chair of the Democratic National Committee

-Visiting professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government

-Has been a potential commerce secretary for both Hillary Clinton and Biden

Meg Whitman

-CEO of Quibi

-Former Republican candidate for governor of California

-She helped eBay create financial success

Department of Justice - Attorney General Candidates:

Merrick Garland

-Appointed to the US Court of Appeals in 1997 and served as chief judge from 2013 through February 2020

-Nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Obama in 2016, vote was blocked by Senate Republicans

-Served as an assistant US attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992 and deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Justice Department from 1993 to 1994

Jeh Johnson

-Served as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama from 2013 to 2017

-Served as general counsel of the Department of the Air Force under President Clinton

Doug Jones

-The junior United States Senator from Alabama, lost to Republican Tommy Tuberville

-Worked as US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and was the lead prosecutor of KKK members under President Clinton

Sally Yates

-Was appointed by President Obama and was set to serve until Trump’s nominee was confirmed, but she was fired by President Trump after she told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees

Secretary of Education Candidates:

Lily Garcia

-Former President of the National Education Association

-Former elementary school teacher

Randi Weingarten

-President of the American Federation of Teachers

-Served as president of the union representing teachers in New York City and was a high school teacher in Brooklyn

Rep. Donna Shalala (D)

-congresswoman from Florida, who lost her reelection in 2020

-Former President of the University of Miami and chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison

-Served as secretary of health and human services for eight years under President Clinton

Secretary of Energy Candidates:

Ernest Moniz

-Former secretary of energy and played a key role in the nuclear deal with Iran

-A nuclear physicist and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

-President and CEO of the Energy Futures Initiative

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall

-Former Deputy secretary of energy under President Obama

-Was a Rhodes Scholar and a professor at Georgia Tech

-Served as deputy assistant secretary secretary of defense for Russia, Eurasia, and Ukraine

Arun Majumdar

-Stanford University professor of mechanical engineering

-Served as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy

Secretary of Health and Human Services Candidates:

Mandy Cohen

-Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

-Served as a senior adviser in HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services later becoming the chief of staff under President Obama

-Teaches in the department of health and policy and management at the University of North Carolina

Vivek Murthy

-Former U.S. surgeon general and former vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

-Founder of Doctors for America

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

-Governor of New Mexico and former New Mexico congresswoman

-Former New Mexico secretary of health and secretary of aging and long-term services

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Candidates:

Alvin Brown

-Former Jacksonville mayor and former executive director of the White House Community Empowerment Board

-Served in the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban development under President Clinton

-Staffer on the Biden campaign

Rep. Karen Bass (D)

-Congresswoman from California

-Former speaker of the California Assembly

-Heads the Congressional Black Caucus and serves on the House Committee of Foreign Affairs

Keisha Lance Bottoms

-Atlanta mayor and former member of Atlanta City Council

-Was a prosecutor and magistrate judge

Secretary of Labor

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I)

-Senator from Vermont and former Democratic presidential candidate

-Very progressive and is seen as far left wing leader

Rep. Andy Levin (D)

-Congressman from Michigan

-Former acting director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth

-Former assistant director of organizing at the AFL-CIO

Julie Su

-Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency

-A MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipient

Secretary of Transportation Candidates:

Eric Garcetti

-Los Angeles mayor since 2013

-Retired lieutenant in U.S. Navy Reserve

-Co-chair of Biden’s campaign

-Oversaw Los Angeles city’s metro system

Rahm Emanuel

-Former mayor of Chicago and former chief of staff to President Obama

-Former Illonois congressman

-Former top aide to President Clinton

Sarah Feinberg

-Interim president of New York City Transit

-Former chief of staff at the Transportation Department under President Obama and administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration

-Worked as an aide for President Obama and head of policy communications at Facebook

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Candidates:

Mary Nichols

-Chair of the California Air Resources Board and has been central to California’s fights against environmental rollbacks

-She has created many cap-and-trade programs for greenhouse gas emissions

Heather McTeer Toney

-Senior director of Moms Clean Air Force

-Former regional administrator Environmental Protection Agency Southeast region under President Obama

Governor Jay Inslee

-Washington governor and former Washington congressman

U.S. Trade Representative Candidates:

Rep. Jimmy Gomez

-Congressman from California

-Helped broker changes for the North American Free Trade Agreement by adding labor provisions

-Would be a Latino representing Los Angeles to add diversity to Biden’s cabinet

Nelson Cunnigham

-President and co-founder of McLarty Associates

-Served as general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee

-Served in the Clinton administration

Katharine Tai

-Chief trade counsel of House Ways and Means Committee

-Worked as U.S. Trade Representative attorney, specialising in trade with China for seven years

-Has support from both corporate and progressive wings

Information gathered from:

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