President-elect Joe Biden’s first significant action regarding his presidency will be assembling his cabinet. The pivotal step of selecting who will be his primary advisors and who will run government agencies will set the tone for the next four years. Over the next several weeks, President-elect Biden will have to find a way to keep all of his party happy while selecting who will help him run the country.
The president’s chief of staff acts as the CEO who handles all White House activity. This individual is the president’s right hand, makes sure that the White House’s day-to-day tasks are done and advises the president on all policy matters. President-elect Biden has nominated Ron Klain, who served as his chief of staff, while Biden was the vice president from 2008-2016. The selection of Klain shows that the Biden administration’s top concern is handling the coronavirus pandemic and revitalizing the economy. Klain guided the Recovery Act in 2009 that helped the U.S. economy following the housing market crash of 2008. Klain was also chosen to be the Ebola Czar under President Obama when that deadly disease shook the world in 2014.
“Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together, including as we rescued the American economy from one of the worst downturns in our history in 2009 and later overcame a daunting public health emergency in 2014,” Biden said about Klain after announcing his selection.
Biden recently announced that he would nominate Antony Blinken to be his Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is the primary foreign policy advisor to the President and is directly responsible for negotiating any situation that the President must deal with on Capitol Hill. Blinken served as the Deputy Secretary of State under President Obama and worked in the State Department under the Clinton Administration.
Blinken has been described as the closest foreign policy advisor to Biden and will share most, if not all, of President-elect Biden’s opinions on foreign affairs. Blinken and Biden plan on rejoining global institutions like the Paris Climate Accord, the World Health Organization and the Iran nuclear deal that the US has left under the Trump Administration. Blinken is an outspoken supporter of the United States being a global superpower that works with other countries on issues that face the globe.
“Simply put, the big problems that we face as a country and as a planet, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s a pandemic, whether it’s the spread of bad weapons – to state the obvious, none of these have unilateral solutions… Even a country as powerful as the United States can’t handle them alone,” said Blinken in July.
President-elect Biden has chosen the former Democratic presidential nominee and Secretary of State John Kerry to be his presidential envoy for climate issues. This position is not officially a member of his cabinet and staff, but Biden will be making it one. Creating a new position shows the matter’s importance to the Biden administration. Biden has indicated that Kerry’s new position will have cabinet rank. Kerry has been an early leader on climate issues going back to 1992 when he went to the first Rio Earth Summit with former Vice President Al Gore.
The full extent of this new position is still unknown, but its very creation represents a revolutionary decision. It is a clear signal both nationally and globally that the United States will prioritize the global climate crisis.
Biden has nominated the first woman to be the director for national intelligence. Pending approval from the Senate, Avril Haines will make history. Haines served as Deputy National Security Advisor and Deputy Director of the CIA under the Obama Administration. The director of national intelligence’s primary job is to advise the president on all issues that concern domestic safety. Haines would oversee the National Intelligence Program, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council. Her appointment is another historic action by the Biden Administration.
The first Latino to serve as the head of the Department of Homeland Security will be a part of the Biden Administration. Alejandro Mayorkas is a Cuban-born lawyer who served under the Obama Administration. Mayorkas served as the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Obama. Mayorkas’ first-hand experience of being an immigrant will add a fresh interpretation to the position that has not yet been seen. Biden and Mayorkas will likely act to reverse most, if not all, of President Trump’s 400 executive actions involving immigration.
In the first of many ambassador appointments, President-elect Biden has chosen who will be the next ambassador to the United Nations. Biden has chosen Linda Thomas-Greenfield to fill the esteemed position. Thomas-Greenfield has served in foreign service for over 35 years and most notably was in charge of the Bureau of African Affairs under President Obama. She also served as an Ambassador to Liberia and worked at American embassies in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, Gambia, Nigeria and Jamaica.
“My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. 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,” tweeted Thomas-Greenfield after her nomination was officially announced.
It is still very early in the assembly process of who will be part of the Biden administration. Thus far, President-elect Biden has mostly chosen people that he worked with within the Obama Administration. Time will tell if this centrist trend continues for the Democratic president-elect.