biden cabinet
January 7, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly made his final choices to round out his Cabinet.

Biden will choose Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his labor secretary and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as his commerce secretary, Politico and The New York Times report, respectively. Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein confirmed both picks.

Walsh has been Boston's mayor for the past seven years, and was previously a Massachusetts state representative. He was the president of his local labor union for more than 20 years, until his election as mayor. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka asked union leaders to support Walsh for the post, Bloomberg reported in November. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told Bloomberg at the time that picking Walsh was a "great idea."

Raimondo has been the governor of Rhode Island since 2015, and "is seen as a relatively traditional choice for commerce secretary," the Times writes. A businesswoman and venture capitalist before becoming governor, Raimondo focused on promoting business growth while in office, but ran afoul of unions along the way.

With the selection of Walsh and Raimondo, Biden has finished naming his picks for his top Cabinet spots. It'll be the most diverse Cabinet in history, though no Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders are included. Biden on Wednesday reportedly settled on D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland to be his attorney general. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 30, 2020

As President-elect Joe Biden continues to round out his Cabinet, he has selected Kathleen Hicks, a think tank strategist and former Pentagon official during the Obama administration, to serve as deputy defense secretary, sources told Politico and The Washington Post. If approved by the Senate, Hicks would become the first woman confirmed to the Defense Department's no. 2 role (Christine Fox served in the role in an acting capacity for several months in the Obama administration).

Hicks has reportedly been considered the frontrunner for the job for several months thanks to her experience and familiarity with Biden. Additionally, Politico reports, the pick "is in some ways an olive branch to a prominent group of female national security leaders" who urged Biden to nominate Michelle Flournoy for defense secretary. Flournoy would have been the first woman to fill the top Pentagon post if confirmed, but Biden instead tapped Gen. Lloyd Austin.

By pairing Hicks with Austin at the top, Biden is seemingly adding more civilian oversight to the department, Politico reports. While Austin is widely respected, critics are wary of Congress granting another waiver for a military official to serve in the role. Read more at Politico and The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

December 22, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden is set to nominate Miguel Cardona, Connecticut's commissioner of public schools, as education secretary, The Washington Post reports, adding that the announcement could be made before Christmas on Friday. Cardona was named to his current position just last year, and before that he was assistant superintendent in Meriden, Connecticut, a district with about 9,000 students. He was born in Meriden to Puerto Rican parents, and he became Connecticut's youngest principal when he was only 28.

Biden has not made a final offer, the Post reports, citing people close to the president-elect, but he met virtually with Cardona on Monday, alone with future first lady Jill Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Biden has pledged to pick someone with a background in public education to the Education Department, and Cardona is seen as more of a consensus candidate than Biden's other rumored finalist, Howard University's Leslie Fenwick, who is a sharp critic of testing-based accountability and other business-style education policies.

"Cardona's experience in public education represents a sharp contrast with President Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, who attended private schools and spent much of her energy advocating for alternatives to public education," the Post notes. "And while Cardona has lived in poverty, DeVos is a billionaire who has been wealthy all her life." Cardona butted heads a bit with teachers unions this fall when he pushed to open public schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been endorsed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called him as a "very, very solid" candidate. Peter Weber

November 23, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to lead the Treasury Department, people familiar with the decision told The Wall Street Journal. Yellen declined to comment, the Journal notes.

If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman to fill the role, as well as the first person to head the Treasury, the central bank, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Yellen oversaw the Fed between 2014 and 2018. She was originally nominated by former President Barack Obama and was confirmed by the Senate with bipartisan support, including three sitting Republican lawmakers — Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). That seemingly increases her chances of getting through the process again, even if the GOP holds on to its majority.

Per the Journal, the Biden transition team views Yellen as a "credible authority on the dangers of prematurely withdrawing government stimulus and as someone who could collaborate closely with the Fed and executive-branch agencies to engineer more support if Congress remains hesitant to act" on coronavirus relief legislation. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

November 23, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden's transition team officially announced his nominees for several key national security posts on Monday.

As had previously been reported, Antony Blinken will be the nominee for secretary of state, Linda Thomas-Greenfield gets the nod for United Nations ambassador, and Jake Sullivan has been tapped as national security adviser.

The announcement also reveals Biden will nominate Alejandro Mayorkas for Homeland Security secretary and Avril Haines for director of national intelligence. If confirmed, Mayorkas, who served deputy secretary of homeland security in the Obama administration and helped create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, would be the first immigrant and Latino to run the department, the transition team noted.

John Kerry will also be back in the mix as Biden's special envoy for climate. The former secretary of state signed the Paris Climate Agreement on behalf of the U.S. in 2015, a deal which Biden is expected to rejoin. Read more about Biden's picks here. Tim O'Donnell

November 23, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden's pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, "was known for his unimpeachable ethics," according to The American Prospect's prior report. That may be true, but how he's spent his time since the end of the Obama administration has left some critics bristling at his selection.

In a July report, TAP put a spotlight on the strategic consultancy firm WestExec Advisers, of which Blinken and Michèle Fourney, the favorite to lead the Pentagon in the Biden administration, were founding partners. The firm has ties to an array of industries, including: tech, financial services, aerospace, defense, and pharmaceuticals. But it's not exactly clear who the individual clients are since the firm, which is not registered to lobby, doesn't have to disclose them. The lack of transparency is a cause for concern among some observers, who are worried about people in the Biden, or any, administration getting too wrapped up in the interests of global corporations, TAP reported.

Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group, told The New York Times that "those kinds of consulting shops," like WestExec, "take advantage of current laws, so there is no transparency in their clients and how they are trying to influence public policy for them. That's exactly the kind of people who should not be in an administration."

There likely will be some clarity, however, since Blinken, as a political appointee, will have to disclose clients who paid $5,000 or more for his services in the past year. Read more about WestExec Advisers at The American Prospect. Tim O'Donnell

November 23, 2020

The early reactions to President-elect Joe Biden's pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is that it's a purposefully "boring" choice, which analysts don't necessarily consider a bad thing.

Writes Axios, the predictable choice is representative of Biden's emphasis on "stability" and his "penchant for sticking with comfort foods when it comes to people, policies, and political techniques." Blinken, after all, is a longtime Biden aide dating back to his Senate days who served as his national security adviser during his vice presidential days.

While one source told Axios that Biden is approaching his Cabinet selection "like an experienced mechanic intent on repairing something that's badly broken," Foreign Policy suggests Blinken is not only a departure from Trump's choices for the role, but also former President Barack Obama's. Blinken is well-respected in Washington, but keeps a low profile, in contrast to the globally-recognized figures who served under Obama — Hillary Clinton and John Kerry — "who may have had their own power bases." Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads