Biden Aims for a More Diverse and Qualified Cabinet
By Sophia Alexandrou
Since his appointment to the position in November, President-elect Joe Biden has begun selecting his picks for his White House Staff. The team that has been assembled so far would provide many “firsts” in the history of the White House, though with a likely consistent Republican majority in the Senate, it may be difficult to get Senate approval for many of the positions that require it. Compared to the white-washed and somewhat underqualified staff during the Trump administration, Joe Biden’s picks seem to point to a more diverse staff and a brighter future for Americans.
Biden’s pick for Secretary of State is Antony Blinken. Though he is considered a moderate, Blinken has worked with progressive communities about their demands for the Biden administration and is respected by many Republican senators, which gives him a good chance of being approved. In addition to working on the 2020 Biden campaign, Blinken was also a member of the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, was appointed to Deputy Secretary of State during the Obama administration, and has served in the Senate for six years. He has aided the fight against ISIL, advocated for refugee rights, and helped craft the US policy on the Iranian nuclear program. However, Blinken has received backlash in the past after appearing to listen to neo-conservatives more willingly than progressives.
For Secretary of Homeland Security, Biden named Alejandro Mayorkas. If confirmed, Mayorkas would be the first Latino Secretary of Homeland Security in the department’s 18-year history. Mayorkas served as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration, director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and US attorney for the Central District of California. During his time as director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, he spearheaded the implementation of DACA under the Obama administration. This may not bode well for Mayorkas’s confirmation however, because there was significant pushback regarding DACA from Republicans.
Former Secretary of State ad former Massachusetts Senator, John Kerry, was nominated to be Special Climate Envoy. With the responsibility of handling one of the greatest crises facing future generations, Biden appointed Kerry, who served as the chief negotiator under the Obama administration for the Paris climate accord. In addition, along with Congressmen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kerry was chosen for Biden’s climate task force, created not only to aid the current climate crisis, but also to unite the Democratic party after the division created during the primaries. This is a position that does not require Senate confirmation.
For Director of National Intelligence, Biden has nominated Avril Haines. As former Deputy National Security Advisor and former Deputy Director of the CIA, Haines would become the highest-ranking woman in US intelligence and the first Deputy National Security Advisor. Though Haines is very experienced, she has received backlash from human groups for playing a central role in the air strikes sent by the Obama administration to the Middle East, killing hundreds of civilians in the process, in addition to nominating Gina Haspel for CIA director despite her use of torture as “enhanced interrogation techniques” after 9/11.
Though President-elect, Joe Biden’s cabinet is not perfect, it provides a decent start for his presidency. Despite a few hiccups in his choices, his potential cabinet seems to be well-experienced, inclusive, and focused on improving this country. With other nominations like Janet Yellen, who would be the first Treasury secretary, and Pete Buttigieg, as the first openly gay Secretary of Transportation, this upcoming administration holds a lot of hope for the future.