Democratic President-elect Joe Biden has begun appointing members of his cabinet and the White House team, striving to deliver on his promise to build an administration that reflects the diversity of the United States.
Biden on Tuesday appointed retired General Lloyd Austin to be his defense secretary. The president-elect has already appointed the main members of his foreign and economic policy teams.
He is expected to name Marcia Fudge, a Democratic congresswoman from Ohio, as the secretary of housing and urban development and former Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack, as the secretary of agriculture.
Here are some important recent picks:
Defense Secretary: Lloyd Austin
Austin, who oversaw US forces in the Middle East under President Barack Obama, would be the first black US Secretary of Defense if the Senate confirms it.
He retired in 2016 and would need a congressional waiver to fill the post as he has been out of the military for less than seven years.
Austin is known as a shrewd strategist with extensive knowledge of the military. But his appointment could draw fire from some progressive groups, given his retired role on the boards of a number of companies, including gunmaker Raytheon Technologies Corp.
Housing and Urban Development: Marcia Fudge
Fudge has served in the House of Representatives since 2008. Before being elected to Congress, she was mayor of Warrensville Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. If confirmed, Fudge would be the second black woman to lead HUD, which focuses on federal housing policy.
Agriculture Secretary: Tom Vilsack
Tom Vilsack, who headed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under then-President Barack Obama, was governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007. He was an early supporter of Biden and an adviser on rural issues during the campaign of the former vice president. Vilsack’s return to the USDA will likely be applauded by those Midwestern states that produce most of the staple crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat, and prefer it to someone from another part of the country.
Secretary for Health and Human Services: Xavier Becerra
The current California Attorney General was previously a 12-term congressman who played a key role in passing the Affordable Care Act through Congress. As attorney general, he led a coalition of 20 states defending the program better known as Obamacare, including in a case in the U.S. Supreme Court last month.
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dr Rochelle Walensky
Rochelle Walensky, currently chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will play a leading role in the Biden administration’s fight against the coronavirus.
Coronavirus Coordinator: Jeff Zients
Jeff Zients, an economic adviser touted for his management skills, has been called upon to save the failed launch of the Affordable Care Act for Obama website. Under Biden, he will oversee an unprecedented operation to distribute hundreds of millions of doses of a new vaccine, coordinating the efforts of several federal agencies.
General surgeon: Vivek Murthy
Physician and former surgeon general, Vivek Murthy has risen to prominence in recent months as the co-chair of Biden’s advisory board dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which the president-elect has pledged to make his top priority.
Secretary of the Treasury: Janet Yellen
The former Federal Reserve chairman has deepened the central bank’s attention to workers and inequality. She has remained active in political debates within 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
Neera Tanden, president of the progressive think tank Center for American Progress, helped create Obamacare, which Republicans want to demolish.
President of the Council of Economic Advisers: Cecilia Rouse
Cecilia Rouse is a labor economist and Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs whose research has focused on the economics of education and the fight against wealth inequality. She was a member of the Obama Council of Economic Advisers from 2009 to 2011.
Director of the National Economic Council: Brian Deese
The Obama administration veteran helped lead auto industry rescue efforts during the 2009 financial crisis and helped negotiate the historic Paris climate deal.
State Secretary: Antony Blinken
Biden’s longtime confidant served as the State Department’s No.2 and Deputy National Security Advisor in the Obama administration.
National Security Advisor: Jake Sullivan
Biden’s national security adviser when he was Obama’s vice president, Jake Sullivan also served as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Homeland security: Alejandro Mayorkas
The Cuban-born lawyer will be the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the department if confirmed as secretary of homeland security. As Head of Citizenship and Immigration Services under Obama, Alejandro Mayorkas led the implementation of the Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for “dreamers”: people brought to the United States. United in their childhood. DACA has drawn Republican criticism and could lead to Republican opposition to the Mayorkas in the Senate.
Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines
Deputy National Security Advisor under Obama, and previously the first woman to serve as Deputy Director of the CIA, Avril Haines is Biden’s candidate for Director of National Intelligence. Haines held several positions at Columbia University after leaving the outgoing Obama administration in 2017.
Ambassador to the United Nations: Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Biden’s candidate to become the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations is Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who will assume a post Biden plans to restore to the cabinet level. She is a black woman who was Obama’s highest diplomat on Africa from 2013 to 2017, leading US policy in Africa south of the Sahara during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Presidential Special Envoy for Climate: John Kerry
Former US Senator and Secretary of State John Kerry will act as “climate czar” in the Biden administration. Kerry helped negotiate the Paris climate deal that Biden wants to join.
White House Chief of Staff: Ron Klain
Longtime Biden adviser with experience in responding to the Ebola pandemic, Ron Klain has been chosen for the post of chief of staff that sets the president’s agenda.