The Biden Cabinet: President-elect begins to build a team

Biden is expected to announce members of his economic policy team next week
Last Updated 28 November 2020, 15:43 IST

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden has begun nominating the members of his Cabinet and White House, working to fulfil his promise to build an administration that reflects the nation's diversity.

Biden named members of his foreign policy and national security team this week, appointing experienced figures aligned with his pledge to restore the United States' global ties and standing as a world leader.

He is expected to announce members of his economic policy team next week, led by former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary.

Here are some recent important picks and top contenders for prominent positions, according to Reuters reporting:

Secretary of State: Anthony Blinken

A longtime Biden confidant who served as No. 2 at the State Department and as deputy national security adviser in President Barack Obama's administration, Blinken was named Biden's choice for secretary of state by the president-elect's campaign on Monday.

National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan

Biden’s national security adviser when he served as vice president to President Barack Obama, Sullivan also served as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He was named Biden's national security adviser on Monday.

Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas

A Cuba-born lawyer will be the first Latino and first immigrant to head the department if confirmed as secretary of homeland security, after Biden's campaign announced his nomination on Monday. As head of Citizenship and Immigration Services under Obama, Mayorkas led the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the United States illegally as children. DACA drew Republican criticism and could lead to Republican opposition against Mayorkas in the Senate.

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 Obama administration in 2017.

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 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 sub-Saharan Africa during the West African Ebola outbreak.

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate: John Kerry

Former US Senator and Secretary of State Kerry will act as “climate czar” in the Biden Administration, the president-elect's campaign announced on Monday. Kerry helped negotiate the Paris climate deal that Biden wants to re-join.

Treasury Secretary: Janet Yellen

The former Fed chair is believed to be the choice for Treasury secretary. She deepened the central bank's focus on workers and inequality and 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

Michele Flournoy - She is the consensus front-runner for the job, which would make her the first woman to lead the Pentagon. Flournoy served as a top Defense Department official in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations, advised Biden's campaign on defence issues and co-founded a consulting firm with Blinken.

Tammy Duckworth - The US senator from Illinois, who was considered as a possible Biden running mate, lost both her legs when her helicopter came under fire while she was an Army officer in Iraq in 2004. Duckworth was an assistant secretary of veterans affairs under Obama and would be the first Thai-American member of the Cabinet.

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 this year by Republican Tommy Tuberville, a former college football coach.

Energy Secretary

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall - A former adviser to Biden when he was in the US Senate, she served in the Obama administration as deputy secretary of energy, where she led an initiative to address cyber and physical challenges to the power grid. Sherwood-Randall is now a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Arun Majumdar - He was the first director of the US Department of Energy's agency that promotes and funds research and development of advanced energy technologies, and also served as acting undersecretary of energy from March 2011 to June 2012. He also worked at Alphabet Inc's Google as vice president for energy before joining Stanford University's faculty.

Jay Inslee - He focused on climate change during his failed presidential bid in 2019, but was re-elected to a third term as governor of Washington state this year. Inslee has been pushed for consideration in the Cabinet by environmental activists given his efforts to pass a carbon tax and clean-fuels standard.

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 favourite of progressives, Toney has advocated and trained diverse 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 Clinton's administration is chairwoman of California's Air Resources Board, which regulates air pollution in the state.

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.

Health and human services

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

Mandy Cohen - A physician who serves as the secretary of North Carolina's Health and Human Services Department, where she has been a major advocate for expanding Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income Americans. Cohen served as the chief operating officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Obama administration.

David Kessler - The former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration has been a co-chair of Biden's advisory board on the coronavirus pandemic. As head of the FDA, Kessler cut the time needed to approve drugs to treat AIDS and moved to try to regulate the tobacco industry.

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.

(Published 28 November 2020, 15:42 IST)

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