Who is in Biden's cabinet? Speculation grows for potential administration

Rumours and predictions among insiders and analysts about future White House leadership

Alex Woodward
New York
Saturday 07 November 2020 18:02 GMT
Bernie Sanders credits 'progressive grassroots organisations' for Biden's apparent election victory

Joe Biden’s team has started to assemble his potential White House staff, with appointments and hires to be announced as early as next week, as the results of the 2020 presidential election show him with a path to victory against incumbent Donald Trump.

The New York Times has reported that the former vice president, aiming to build one of the most diverse cabinets in presidential history while also establishing bipartisan ties, has discussed filling critical positions – including cabinet appointments to be confirmed in the US Senate – to address the nation’s multiple crises within his first potential days in office in January.

“We’re not waiting to get the work done and to start the process,” he said in remarks from Wilmington, Delaware on Friday night.

The campaign has met with experts to address the public health crisis and its economic fallout.

“On Day 1, we’re going to put our plan to control this virus into action,” he said. “We can save a lot of lives in the months ahead.”

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While millions of Americans are “worried about making rent and putting food on the table,” his administration would “put us on a path to a plan for a full recovery,” he added.

But with Mitch McConnell and a potential GOP roadblock ahead of potential president-elect Biden, speculation over the Democratic candidate’s cabinet appointments – with the party’s failure to win a majority in the US Senate in 2020 elections – has only grown. Team Biden’s anticipated candidates, including progressives who were likely picks for cabinet-level positions, may no longer be in play, according to reports.

Capitol reporters and strategists have suggested that a Biden cabinet is more likely to propose more moderate secretaries with a better chance to pass through Majority Leader McConnell’s opposition Senate.

Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, told Business Insider that "it would not surprise anybody if Biden looked for compromise picks in some of his more high-profile cabinet choices.”

Progressive policy groups have argued that a president-elect Biden should press forward with recommendations regardless.

A Biden administration would follow Donald Trump’s largely appointed, unconfirmed senior leadership.

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So far, the Biden campaign has remained cautious and kept its internal considerations relatively quiet, while rumour mills and jockeying among party officials persist. Potential hires have largely said they’re happy where they are but have not explicitly said they would turn down an offer.

Reporting has suggested that Mr Biden could rely on Obama-era connections and progressive Democrats orbiting his campaign’s coalition-building agenda over the summer.

Reporting from Politico suggested that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren could be tapped to lead the Treasury Department, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders leading the Department of Labor.

Senator Sanders has said his focus is ensuring a Biden victory, and his campaign manager Faiz Shakir told Politico that the Vermont senator will plan to push Mr Biden to include progressives among his cabinet officials.

More centrist picks – including Lael Brainard for Treasury or Tony Blinken for Secretary of State – could be offered up instead, according to Axios

Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus and joined a working group to draft the Biden agenda, told Politico that she hopes Biden will consider progressive Democrats for cabinet positions.

“I hope and believe Biden understands the crossover appeal of these populist individuals and their ability to motivate progressive turnout and also appeal to working class folks,” she said.

Other potential picks with ties to the Obama administration could include Julian Castro, Susan Rice, and Sally Yates, according to Politico.

Ms Yates, who was an assistant US Attorney and Deputy Attorney General under the Obama administration, is also on Mr Biden’s transition team. She has reportedly been considered for US Attorney General to lead the Department of Justice.

Mr Obama’s former national security adviser Susan Rice could be considered for Secretary of State.

Both women could face intense scrutiny from Senate Republicans; Democratic Alabama Senator Doug Jones, who lost his recent re-election bid, could be offered up for the Justice Department instead.

Democratic congressman and House majority whip James Clyburn told MSNBC that he wants Mr Biden to appoint Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Congressman and Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus who also co-chaired the Biden campaign, to the administration – if he wants out of Congress.

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti – who joined the campaign’s search for a running mate – also could get a call to the administration.

Other campaign surrogates – Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth – are among other names floated by Washington insiders.

The administration also will have to fill controversial seats – including the Department of Homeland Security, facing calls to eliminate Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid allegations of widespread abuses and missing children in custody.

Mr Biden’s picks to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will inherit a massive public health crisis.

As president, Mr Biden said he would immediately implement a national agenda, which could require rapid appointments in those roles.

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