Biden’s Pressured On Cabinet Picks

Dear Rich Lifer,

President-Elect Joe Biden has begun to fill his administration. While not every position has been filled, multiple high-power positions have been announced such as Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury and Secretary of Homeland Security.

However, Biden is under pressure from several civil rights groups and groups within the Democratic party to appoint Black and Latino nominees.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus have been in touch with Mr. Biden’s transition team to encourage him to increase diversity in his administration.

Such lawmakers and civil rights groups think Biden needs to be doing more to uphold his promise to assemble a diverse cabinet that can unify the government and the American people.

While many appointments and nominations are still up in the air, today we will take a look at who Biden has already appointed to some of the most powerful positions in government.

National Security

Secretary of State – Anthony Blinken has been nominated by President-Elect Biden as the next secretary of state. Blinken served as staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while Mr. Biden served as a U.S. senator representing Delaware. He also worked on Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign.

He also had various roles during the Obama Administration. He was deputy secretary of state during President Obama’s second term and also served as then-Vice President Biden’s national security advisor.

During Biden’s 2020 campaign, he also served as a top foreign policy advisor. Besides his work in politics, in 2017, Blinken opened a consulting firm called WestExec Advisors.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations – Linda Thomas Greenfield is Biden’s nominee as UN Ambassador. Ms. Greenfield was U.S. ambassador to Liberia from 2008 to 2012 and held diplomatic posts in several other countries. She then served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

In 2017 she was pushed out of the State Department, under then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and joined the Albright Stonebridge Group as a senior vice president and head of Africa practice. She is currently on leave from the Albright Stonebridge Group and, if confirmed, will be one of only four — so far — people of color nominated to Biden’s cabinet.

Secretary of Homeland Security – Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban-Jewish immigrant whose family fled the Fidel Castro regime in 1960, has been nominated for Secretary of Homeland Security. Formerly, he served as the U.S. attorney for the central district of California under former President Bill Clinton.

Under President Obama, Mayorkas served as both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deputy secretary and the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He has been praised by immigration advocates and Democratic lawmakers for his work to implement DACA — the deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for young immigrants living in the country without legal permission.

If confirmed, Mayorkas would be the first Latino and immigrant to lead DHS.

Other National Security picks include Jake Sullivan, a former national security advisor to Vice President Biden, as National Security Advisor, a position that does not need Senate confirmation.

Avril Haines, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, has been nominated as Director of National Intelligence.


Secretary of the Treasury – Janet Yellen, the first woman ever to lead the Federal Reserve, is Biden’s pick for Secretary of the Treasury.

Yellen has an extensive resume, and if confirmed, would become the first person to have headed the Treasury, the central bank and the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

She has also been president of the San Francisco Fed, a Fed governor and is professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley.

Director of the Office of Management and Budget – Neera Tanden, the CEO and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, is Biden’s nominee for Director of OMB.

Tanden may be Biden’s most hotly contested pick thus far, as she has frequently wrangled with Republicans and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party on Twitter. As the Senate is still Republican-controlled — barring the Georgia runoffs delivery Democratic wins — she will likely be a tough candidate to confirm in the Senate.

Tanden was previously a key architect of the Affordable Care Act and an advisor to Hillary Clinton. If she is confirmed she would be the first woman of color and the first South Asian woman to oversee OMB.

Director of the National Economic Council – Brian Deese is Biden’s nominee for Director of the National Economic Council (NEC), another position that does not require Senate confirmation.

Deese held senior economic roles in the Obama administration, such as deputy director of the NEC and as deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. He also had a central role in negotiating the 2015 International Climate Change Agreement.

After his time in the White House, Deese joined BlackRock Inc. as global head of sustainable investing.

Chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) – The final head economic appointment is Cecilia Rouse. Rouse is a Princeton University labor economist and previously served as a CEA member during the first two years of the Obama administration.

She also served on the NEC during the Clinton administration. If appointed, Rouse will be the first woman of color to serve as the chair of the CEA.

Biden has also announced two picks for members of the CEA — Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey.

West Wing

One last key appointment we will cover today is Ron Klain as White House Chief of Staff. This is another appointment position that does not require Senate approval.

Klain served as chief of staff to then-Vice President Biden from 2009 to 2011 and previously worked as chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore.

He also served as Ebola czar under President Obama, something that clearly holds weight as he prepares his incoming administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Klain’s relationship with Biden has spanned more than three decades, beginning with roles in the 1980s on the Senate Judiciary Committee while Biden served as chairman and on Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1987.

There are many more appointments to be made, and of course, most of these nominees still face Senate approval. We will certainly continue to follow along as Biden continues his nominations.

To a Richer Life,

The Rich Life Roadmap Team

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