US Election 2020

Biden announces first nominations for White House cabinet

The President-elect has already named Ron Klain to his White House senior staff, but it is his cabinet appointees who will help define his presidency.

Biden announces first nominations for White House cabinet
Mark Makela AFP

President-elect Joe Biden is wasting no time and has already named some important officials ahead of his inauguration. He has already outlined his covid-19 task force and has confirmed a number of senior White House staff appointments. Many of those confirmed so far, like Steve Richetti, Dana Remus and Ron Klain, worked alongside Vice President Biden during the Obama administration.

Klain has been named White House chief of staff, after also serving as Biden’s chief of staff to the Vice President for two years. When asked about a timeline for other key appointments, Klain told ABC’s ‘This Week’ that Biden’s transition team would “beat the pace” of the last two Presidents’.

"But if you want to know what Cabinet agencies they are, who's going to be in those Cabinet agencies," he said, "you'll have to wait for the president-elect to say that himself on Tuesday."

Biden is clearly eager to get started and has announced the first members of his national security and foreign policy team today.

Who is in Joe Biden's cabinet?

After much speculation about the first names in Biden's cabinet, his transition team has today confirmed a number of key figures.

Anthony J. Blinken will be Secretary of State; Jake Sullivan will be Biden’s national security adviser and Linda Thomas-Greenfield will take over as ambassador to the United Nations. The three represent experienced, trusted officials who Biden will hope can help reassert America’s reputation as a global power after the more isolationist approach of the Trump administration.

The new director of national intelligence will be a woman for the first time in US history as Avril Haines is given the top job. She served as White House deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and was previously the deputy director of the CIA.

Alejandro Mayorkas will become Secretary of Homeland Security, having played a key role as primary architect of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme during the Obama administration.Mayorkas, the son of Cuban immigrants, will help reverse President Trump's hard-line immigration policies.

"I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones", he tweeted.

What will Joe Biden’s cabinet look like?

As Biden’s cabinet starts to take shape it will give a decent clue of what to expect from Biden’s presidency. He ran on the promise of uniting America, so it is unlikely that he will attempt to appoint anyone who is too controversial or extreme in their views.

Speaking at a press conference in Wilmington Delaware last week, Biden announced that he has already decided on his pick for Treasury Secretary. He told reporters: “It’s someone who will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, from the progressive to the moderate coalitions.”

 

Senior advisor Jennifer Psaki echoed this sentiment in a recent interview, where she promised that Biden’s cabinet would reflect the entire country.

"President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect [Kamala] Harris were elected by a coalition of people across the country and that included people who are progressive and moderate and Republican, although most Americans don't think of themselves by those definitions," Psaki told CNN’s ‘State of the Union’. "Their Cabinet and the team will look like America, so that means diversity of ideology, and he wants to have a range of views of people at the table."

This broad-church approach may well be necessary if the Democrats are unsuccessful in January’s Senate run-off races in Georgia and the Republicans retain control of the Upper House. If that happens then the Senate Majority Leader, expected to be Republican Mitch McConnell, may be able to prevent any of Biden’s more progressive picks being confirmed.

Biden can make use of the Vacancies Act to appoint ‘acting’ secretaries, as Donald Trump did. However Biden has promised to rule by consensus and using a legal loophole to do fill his cabinet would seem to undermine that.