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US Elections 2020

Joe Biden wins US Election 2020: who could form his cabinet?

Joe Biden has won the race to be elected US president over Donald Trump and now will seek to push nominees for key Cabinet positions through the Senate.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris deliver remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020.

With Joe Biden installed as United States president-elect following his victory over Donald Trump the Democrats can begin the process of implementing their strategy for the future of US domestic and international policy, a process that will be shaped by Biden’s choices for key Cabinet positions. It is expected that the 77-year-old will oversee the formation of the most diverse administration in US history ahead of his inauguration alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on 20 January 2021: "Men, women, gay, straight, centre, across the board, Black, white, Asian," Biden said earlier this year when discussing the make-up of a Cabinet that could include Democratic veterans like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as well as potentially finding room for rising stars such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stacey Abrams.

"I said from the outset I wanted a campaign that represented America, and I think we did that. Now that’s what I want the administration to look like,” Biden said in his first speech following his confirmation as president-elect. The Capitol Hill veteran can call on 36 years in the Senate and an eight-year term as vice president alongside Barack Obama as he seeks to “turn the temperature down” after Trump’s tempestuous tenure. Notably, Biden promised to call on “Democrats and Republicans alike” to move towards a more conciliatory political atmosphere in the US.

Room for AOC in Biden's new Cabinet?

Biden’s Cabinet nominations will be subject to approval by the Senate and given the Republicans are projected to narrowly retain control of the upper chamber after the 5 January run-off elections in Georgia, Biden’s cordial relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, forged during Biden’s terms as vice-president, will be crucial to pushing through his picks. Last week, McConnell referred to Biden as an "old friend” but he remains likely to resist attempts by the Democrats to nominate progressives such as Ocasio-Cortez.

There has been some speculation that Ocasio-Cortez could be appointed to a specially created position in the Cabinet focused entirely on the environment and climate change due to her role in crafting Biden’s policy in that sphere. John Kerry has also been mentioned as a potential candidate to become Biden’s “climate czar.”

Abrams a potential Supreme Court pick

Abrams, whose efforts to engage the electorate in Georgia have handed Biden the lead in a state that has been in Republican hands since 1992 and who was tipped as a running mate for the president-elect, is a potential pick for the Supreme Court.

Democrats fell short of their goal of taking a Senate majority and actually lost seats in the House of Representatives, making Republicans well positioned to block major Biden legislative initiatives.

That leaves Biden's party with the daunting task of trying to unseat two incumbent Republican senators in the traditionally Republican-leaning state of Georgia, where Biden himself holds just a narrow lead over President Donald Trump as vote-counting continues.

"We take Georgia, then we change the world," Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer declared in New York on Saturday.

Republicans appear poised to hold at least 50 of the Senate's 100 seats next year, presuming that leads in North Carolina and Alaska hold.

If the Democrats were to claim both seats in Georgia there would be a 50-50 tie in the Senate with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

Biden nominees for key Cabinet positions

Biden has long kept a tight inner circle on whom he relies for strategic advice, including his family members and his chiefs of staff during his White House years as vice president, Ron Klain, Steve Ricchetti and Bruce Reed.

Klain, a political tactician who also ran the Obama administration's response to an Ebola outbreak in 2014, is widely seen as a leading choice to be Biden's initial chief of staff.

Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, who co-chaired Biden’s presidential campaign, has also been tipped for the post.

Coronavirus recovery and the economy

Biden has a host of top economic positions to fill in his administration, including Secretary of the Treasury, where Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard and former Treasury deputy secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin are seen as top contenders.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has also made her interest in the Treasury’s top job widely known.

International relations and national security

Biden has promised to reset relationships with allies and adversaries abroad early in his term. He is expected to turn to long-time personal aides for help on this task, too.

Antony Blinken, one of Biden's closest advisers on the campaign, is being considered for national security adviser or Secretary of State. Blinken was a staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee long chaired by Biden, advised his 2008 presidential campaign and served as the vice president's national security adviser in the White House. He has advocated a forceful leadership role for the United States abroad to confront possible adversaries such as China while also stressing opportunities for cooperation with other countries.

Jake Sullivan, another top policy aide for the campaign, is also being considered for an international relations post.

Susan Rice, who was vetted to be Biden's running mate, is considered a top pick for Secretary of State as well despite conflict with Republicans over her role in the aftermath of the 2012 militant attack on the US mission on Benghazi, Libya. So, too, is one of Biden's biggest supporters in the Senate, Chris Coons of Delaware.

Michèle Flournoy, a former top US Department of Defense official who co-founded a consulting firm with Blinken, is considered a top pick to run the Pentagon.

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