Diversity showed in the first round of Biden Cabinet picks announced Monday. President-elect Joe Biden officially announced his picks for Cabinet and administration positions. Specifically, the list includes the first Latino to lead the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, it includes the first woman to head the US intelligence community.
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The choices echo Biden's wish to assemble diverse talent with public policy experience. Incoming Vice President Kamala Harris said the nominees “represent the best of America.” In addition, she said “They come from different places and reflect different life experiences. But, they all share an unwavering belief in America's ideals and an unshakeable commitment to democracy and the rule of law. And they are the leaders America needs to help meet the challenges of this moment — and those that lie ahead.”
Secretary of State
Biden nominated Antony Blinken, 58, as secretary of state. Previously, Blinken served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under Obama. Immediately, Blinken’s main objective would be to reframe the US’s standing with the rest of the world. Already, he joined Biden and Harris on foreign policy briefings for Egypt and Ethiopia.
Blinken will take over a demoralized State Department. In fact, he will assume command of a department that lost a lot of major talent. Before, career officers left or retired earlier during the last four years. They said they left because of limited opportunities for advancement during Trump. Therefore, Blinken will need to start cleaning house immediately
Secretary of the Treasury
Former Fed chair Janet Yellen becomes Biden’s pick for Treasury Secretary. Biden banks on Yellen’s experience in federal policy-making for three decades. Once she gets Senate confirmation, Yellen becomes the first woman to hold the position. Previously, she was the first woman to hold the top position at the Federal Reserve.
Yellen, 74, will lead efforts to pull the US out of the economic rubble caused by a coronavirus. As such, expect her to support congressional spending to stimulate the economy. Also, she will need the Treasury to work with the Fed. Together, they can continue emergency lending programs to help businesses.
National Security Adviser
Jacob Jeremiah “Jake” Sullivan, 44, is a senior policy adviser for Biden. Earlier, he worked as an adviser to State Department Secretary Hillary Clinton. There, Sullivan was the first to report about Trump's possible ties with Russia. Also, he helped as the lead negotiator in the Iran nuclear deal. More importantly, he played a role in the Gaza ceasefire in 2012 and helped shape US Asia-Pacific strategy.
Sullivan tweeted yesterday his acceptance for the nomination. Moreso, he said Biden “taught me what it takes to safeguard our national security at the highest levels of our government. Now, he has asked me to serve as his National Security Advisor. In service, I will do everything in my power to keep our country safe.”
Secretary of Homeland Security
Alejandro Mayorkas, 61 is the first Latino elected to head Homeland Security. His appointment signals Biden’s intent to bring experience to the DHS. Of course, immigrant advocates hailed the selection of an immigrant to manage the DHS. Accordingly, they see Mayorkas helping end the politicization and instability within the DHS.
Mayorkas addresses the need for experienced hands running the department. Previously, he served as DHS deputy secretary and was also director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services. Additionally, Mayorkas helped in the implementation of DACA, which helped protect undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.
Director of National Intelligence
Occupying the post Directory of National Intelligence is Avril Haines, 51. Potentially, she can be the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence. Earlier in her career, she was principal deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration. She also served as deputy director of the CIA. Haines was the first woman to hold both roles.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, lauded the nomination. “Avril is smart and capable, with a background that will serve her well as Director of National Intelligence,” he said. “While I expect that she will face rigorous questioning from Senators on both sides of the aisle, the sooner we can get a confirmed DNI in place to start fixing the damage the last four years have done to our intelligence agencies, the better.”
Ambassador to the United Nations
Biden called on Linda Thomas-Greenfield, 68, as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Previously, she was a career American diplomat who was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs between 2013 to 2017. Also, she was director-general of the foreign service, as well as ambassador to Liberia.
Thomas-Greenfield was also a senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group in Washington, DC. She will have to work hard to repair the United States’ role in the world body, as Trump’s four years gave little priority to the UN and its councils.
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
Biden appointed John Kerry, 76, as his special presidential envoy for the climate. This completely turns around from Trump’s position on climate change. Kerry will signify the US’s renewed commitment to helping confront climate issues.
Kerry holds a cabinet-level appointment with a seat in the National Security Council. “This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change, reflecting the president-elect's commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent national security issue,” the Biden transition team said in a statement.
Watch this as ABC News reports on President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet picks:
Which cabinet appointee do you like in particular? Do you find them a welcome change from the previous administration? Or, do you find it as politics as usual? Either way, let us know what you think about the first few Biden cabinet picks by commenting below.
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