Democratic President-elect Joe Biden has begun nominating the members of his Cabinet and White House, working to fulfil his promise to build an administration that reflects the nation’s diversity.
Biden will name California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as secretary of Health and Human Services, two sources familiar with the decision said. He already has named leading members of his foreign policy and economic teams.
Here are some recent important picks and top contenders for prominent positions, according to Reuters reporting:
Health and Human Services Secretary: Xavier Becerra
The California attorney general was a 12-term congressman who played a key role in passing the Affordable Care Act in Congress. As attorney general, he has led the coalition of 20 states defending the program better known as Obamacare, including in a case before the Supreme Court in November.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director: Rochelle Walensky
Walensky, the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will take a prominent role in the Biden administration’s fight against the coronavirus.
Coronavirus Coordinator: Jeff Zients
Zients, an economic adviser touted for his managerial skills, was tapped to save the bungled launch of the Affordable Care Act’s website for former President Barack Obama. Under Biden, he will oversee an unprecedented operation to distribute hundreds of millions of doses of a new vaccine, coordinating efforts across multiple federal agencies.
Surgeon General: Vivek Murthy
A physician and former surgeon general, Murthy gained prominence in recent months as co-chairperson of Biden’s advisory board dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which the president-elect has pledged to make his top priority.
Treasury Secretary: Janet Yellen
The former Fed chair deepened the central bank’s focus on workers and inequality and has remained active in policy debates at the Brookings Institution think tank since Republican President Donald Trump replaced her as head of the central bank in 2018.
Office of Management and Budget: Neera Tanden
Tanden, president of the progressive Centre for American Progress think tank, helped create Obamacare, which Republicans want to demolish.
Council of Economic Advisers Chair: Cecilia Rouse
Rouse, a labour economist and dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs whose research has focused on the economics of education and tackling wealth inequality, was a member of Obama’s council of economic advisers from 2009 to 2011.
National Economic Council Director: Brian Deese
The Obama administration veteran helped lead efforts to bailout the automotive industry during the 2009 financial crisis and helped negotiate the landmark Paris climate accord.
Secretary of State: Antony Blinken
A long-time Biden confidant who served as No.2 at the State Department and as deputy national security adviser in Obama’s administration.
National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan
Biden’s national security adviser when he served as vice president to Obama, Sullivan also served as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas
A Cuba-born lawyer will be the first Latino and first immigrant to head the department if confirmed as secretary of homeland security. As head of Citizenship and Immigration Services under Obama, Mayorkas led implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme for Dreamers, people who were brought to the United States as undocumented children.
DACA drew Republican criticism and could lead to Republican opposition against Mayorkas in the Senate.
Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines
Deputy national security adviser under Obama, and previously the first woman to serve as CIA deputy director, Haines is Biden’s nominee for director of national intelligence. Haines held several posts at Columbia University after leaving the Obama administration in 2017.
Ambassador to The United Nations: Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Biden’s nominee to become the next US ambassador to the United Nations is Thomas-Greenfield, who will take on a job that Biden plans to restore to a Cabinet level.
She is a Black woman who served as Obama’s top diplomat on Africa from 2013 to 2017, leading US policy in Africa south of the Sahara during the West African Ebola outbreak.
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate: John Kerry
Former US Senator and Secretary of State Kerry will act as “climate czar” in the Biden Administration. Kerry helped negotiate the Paris climate deal that Biden wants to re-join.
Michele Flournoy – She is the consensus front-runner for the job, which would make her the first woman to lead the Pentagon. Flournoy served as a top Defence Department official in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations, advised Biden’s campaign on defence issues and co-founded a consulting firm with Blinken.
Jeh Johnson – Although best known as the former secretary of homeland security under the Obama administration, Johnson also served as Department of Defence general counsel in the early years of Obama’s presidency and as general counsel of the Air Force during the Clinton Administration. A career lawyer, sources say Johnson is also under consideration for Attorney General.
Lloyd Austin – A retired four-star general who oversaw US forces in the Middle East as the head of US Central Command under the Obama administration, Austin would bring another retired general back to the Pentagon’s top civilian post.
Tammy Duckworth – The US senator from Illinois, who was considered as a possible Biden running mate, lost both her legs when her helicopter came under fire while she was an Army officer in Iraq in 2004. Duckworth was an assistant secretary of veterans’ affairs under Obama and would be the first Thai-American member of the Cabinet.
Sally Yates – A former deputy attorney general, Yates was briefly the acting attorney general early in Trump’s term before being fired for insubordination for refusing to defend travel restrictions targeting seven Muslim-majority nations.
Doug Jones – A former federal prosecutor with a strong civil rights record, he won a US Senate seat in a 2017 special election in deeply conservative Alabama. Jones was defeated in 2020 by Republican Tommy Tuberville, a former college football coach.
Tom Perez – A former labour secretary and one-time head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has been floated, though he might face an uphill battle winning confirmation in the US Senate if it remains in Republican control.
Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall – A former adviser to Biden when he was in the US Senate, she served in the Obama administration as deputy secretary of energy, where she led an initiative to address cyber and physical challenges to the power grid. Sherwood-Randall is now a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Arun Majumdar – He was the first director of the US Department of Energy’s agency that promotes and funds research and development of advanced energy technologies, and also served as acting undersecretary of energy from March 2011 to June 2012. He also worked at Alphabet Inc’s Google as vice president for energy before joining Stanford University’s faculty.
Jay Inslee – He focused on climate change during his failed presidential bid in 2019 and was re-elected to a third term as governor of Washington State in 2020. Inslee has been pushed for consideration in the Cabinet by environmental activists given his efforts to pass a carbon tax and clean-fuels standard.
Ernest Moniz – He is a nuclear physicist who served as Obama’s second energy secretary. Moniz was a technical expert on Obama’s team that struck the 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear programme and would bring an emphasis on science back to the department.
Moniz has been criticised by some environmental groups for his support of natural gas, in an “all of the above” stance on energy that included renewable power, when he was secretary.
Environmental Protection Agency
Heather McTeer Toney – A former regional administrator of the EPA under Obama, the clean-air activist is national field director for Moms Clean Air Force. A favourite of progressives, Toney has advocated and trained diverse officials on leadership and climate in over 15 countries, including Kenya, France, Portugal, Nigeria and Senegal.
Mary Nichols – The former assistant administrator for the EPA during Clinton’s administration is chairwoman of California’s Air Resources Board, which regulates air pollution in the state.
Collin O’Mara – The CEO of the National Wildlife Federation served as an energy and environment advisor to Biden. Prior to working at the NWF, O’Mara was the youngest person to head up the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, from 2009 to 2014.
Central Intelligence Agency
Michael Morell – He was the CIA’s deputy director and acting director of the agency twice under Obama. Morell is now the chairperson of the geopolitical risk practice at Beacon Global Strategies, a Washington consulting firm.
Tom Donilon – The veteran diplomat and former national security adviser under Obama helped steer a White House agenda that increased the US focus on the relationship with Asia. Donilon, a long-time adviser to Biden, worked on Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1988.
Chief Of Staff: Ron Klain
A long-time Biden adviser with experience in responding to the Ebola pandemic, Klain was picked for the chief of staff role that sets the president’s agenda.