Politics

Who Are Joe Biden’s Cabinet Nominees? President-Elect Has Chosen Several Historic Firsts

The list includes several historic firsts, including the first woman to lead the U.S. intelligence community and the first Latinx American to head the Department of Homeland Security.

From left: Biden cabinet nominees Avril Haines, Antony Blinken, and Alejandro Mayorkas | Getty Images
From left: Biden cabinet nominees Avril Haines, Antony Blinken, and Alejandro Mayorkas | Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team has unveiled a list of nominees to helm top foreign policy and national security positions in his cabinet. The list includes several historic firsts, including the first woman to lead the U.S. intelligence community and the first Latinx American to head the Department of Homeland Security.

The team’s announcement on Monday revealing the first cabinet selections includes Antony Blinken for secretary of state, Alejandro Mayorkas for secretary of homeland security, Avril Haines for director of national intelligence, Linda Thomas-Greenfield for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Jake Sullivan for national security adviser and John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate. 

All of the appointees previously worked under the Obama administration, when Biden served as vice president.

“These individuals are equally as experienced and crisis-tested as they are innovative and imaginative,” Biden said in the announcement. “Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and unchanged habits — or without diversity of background and perspective. It’s why I’ve selected them.”

Biden’s transition team has yet to announce other cabinet appointees, including secretary of veterans affairs, secretary of energy, secretary of labor, and secretary of education.

Who are the official nominees?

Blinken previously served as deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration and has advised Biden on foreign policy for almost two decades.

Haines is a former top CIA official and former legal adviser to the National Security Council during the Obama administration. If confirmed, she would be the first woman ever to hold this position.

Mayorkas previously served as deputy secretary of homeland security during the Obama administration. If confirmed, he would be the first immigrant and first Latinx American to lead the department.

“When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge,” Mayorkas, who is Cuban-American, said on Twitter following the announcement. “Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.”

Thomas-Greenfield previously served as assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs during the Obama administration and has worked in the U.S. Foreign Service for more than 35 years.

“My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place,” she said Monday. “I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service – and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations.”

Kerry, a former Sec. of State, senator, and Democratic presidential nominee, has been named to serve as special presidential envoy for climate, a newly created position on the National Security Council. Kerry also signed the Paris climate agreement on behalf of the United States, and Biden has vowed to rejoin the accord once he takes office.

“It'll be an honor to work with our allies and partners, alongside rising young leaders in the climate movement, to tackle the climate crisis with the seriousness and urgency it deserves,” Kerry tweeted on Monday.

Biden’s other likely picks are historic firsts

Biden also reportedly plans to appoint Janet Yellen for treasury secretary and New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland for interior secretary.

Yellen became the first woman to serve as chair of the Federal Reserve in 2014 and served until 2018, and she would make history again as the first woman to lead the U.S. Treasury Department. The treasury secretary is responsible for maintaining a strong U.S. economy and job growth. Yellen would oversee efforts to revive the economy, which has been rattled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Haaland, one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, served as a key surrogate for the Biden campaign and has supported his plans for environmental justice, the climate crisis, and improving quality of life in tribal nations. More than 120 elected tribal leaders and officials have urged Biden to pick her for the Cabinet role, which would mark the first time a Native American served in such a position.

Versha Sharma contributed to this report.

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