President-elect Biden chooses Cabinet, transitions to White House

President-elect Biden chooses Cabinet, transitions to White House

In the weeks following the election, President-elect Joe Biden has had an array of nominations to complete that decide who will serve by his side and head the independent agencies.
The executive branch includes the president, the vice president, the Cabinet which contains the heads of the 15 executive departments, the White House chief of staff, and several other positions.
Cabinet members are nominated by the president and must be confirmed by the Senate, though the president can dismiss them at any time without legislative approval. Likewise, the Senate can deny any appointment if the appointee is not right for the position for any reason.
There are two positions Biden has appointed that do not require Senate approval: White House Chief of Staff and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. Ron Klain, Biden’s former Chief of Staff to the Vice President when he served with the Obama administration, has been chosen to serve again under Biden’s administration.
The other position, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, has just been created as an official of the National Security Council that will address climate change as a matter of national security. Chosen for the position is former Secretary of State John Kerry, who replaced Hillary Clinton in the position in 2013.
“I hope that this new presidency doesn’t bring out riots because people in this world don’t see eye-to-eye on much anymore,” senior Grant Loveday said. “I think the country will split more than it already is before it gets better.”
Biden’s first round of nominations came on November 23, only a couple of weeks after he was presumed the winner of the election. Many of the nominees served previously in one or both terms under the Obama administration.
Former Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken was announced as Biden’s pick for Secretary of State. Blinken served as Deputy National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2015 before accepting the Deputy Secretary position and serving from 2015 to 2017. Previous to the Obama administration, he also served in a number of senior foreign policy positions under the Clinton and Bush administrations.
The same day, Biden announced Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security. Mayorkas served under Obama as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
Also announced on November 23 was Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as US Ambassador to the United Nations. Haines, if confirmed, will be the first woman to serve as National Intelligence Director.
“I think diversity is important because it’ll give you different perspectives,” senior Alex Bermudez said. “However, what’s more important is having a Cabinet that is capable of doing their jobs properly.”
A week later, on November 30, Biden announced three more nominations: former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary, Neera Tanden as Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Cecilia Rouse as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. Yellen, who also served under the Clinton administration, would be the first female Secretary of the Treasury.
The remainder of Biden’s nominations thus far have been announced sporadically over the course of several weeks. Incumbent California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra was announced as the choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services on December 7. Retired Army General Lloyd Austin was nominated as Secretary of Defense on December 8. Austin would be the first African-American Defense Secretary.
Another group of Cabinet picks was announced on December 10, including three department heads. Former White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough was chosen as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio was chosen as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was chosen for another term in the position after having served both terms in the Obama administration.
Fudge would not be the first woman, nor the first African-American woman to serve in the position, though a woman has not been HUD secretary since 1979 during the Carter administration.
Chief Trade Counsel of the House Ways and Means Committee Katherine Tai was also announced on December 10 as Biden’s pick for US Trade Representative.
The next Cabinet position announced was former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation on December 15. Upon confirmation, Buttigieg would be the first openly gay Cabinet secretary in US history.
On December 17, Biden announced former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm as Energy Secretary and US Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico for Secretary of the Interior. Granholm served on Obama’s transition team after the 2008 election but has not held public office since her gubernatorial term ended in 2011. Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, would be the first Native American to run the Interior Department as well as the first Native American Cabinet secretary if confirmed.
“I think that having such a diverse and progressive group in the Cabinet will help the country to be more inclusive,” senior Kyra Cleveland said. “Hopefully people will spread less hate by providing minorities opportunities to serve in important positions.”
Biden also nominated North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Regan previously worked for the EPA during the Clinton and Bush administrations from 1998 to 2008.
There are still several Cabinet appointments to be announced: Attorney General and the Secretaries of Labor, Commerce, and Education. Biden reportedly offered the position of Interior Secretary to New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, but she declined.
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, if all of Biden’s current picks are confirmed, it would be the first Presidential Cabinet to include at least as many women as men.
The incoming administration is no stranger to firsts. Vice-president elect Kamala Harris will be the first woman, African-American, and Asian-American to serve in the office. Biden will be the oldest president upon taking office and the first president from Delaware.
Biden’s inauguration and transition already look different than years prior: many of the usual events will be held virtually, and it is unknown if current President Donald Trump will attend the ceremony or not. Attendance has been limited to members of Congress and one guest of their choosing.
“Biden has inherited a divided nation and thus has a tough job at hand; to be successful he will likely need control of the Senate,” Bermudez said. “I think having more progressives in office can only be a good thing for the country, as a lot of their policies have to do with helping the working class and ensuring equality for people of color.”