Biden chooses members for cabinet positions

Jackson Rickert, Opinions Editor, Columnist

President-elect Joe Biden has released a string of announcements over the past several weeks formally appointing or nominating his picks for the top executive and advisor positions in the White House. An important part of the transition process, who Biden chooses for his cabinet will affect the agenda and execution of the upcoming administration.

Biden has mostly been picking officials that he has experience working with or officials who were in some way involved in the Obama administration. Notable picks from the previous presidency include former Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State, former Secretary of State John Kerry as a Climate Envoy, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jannet Yellen as Secretary of the Treasury and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice as the Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Biden’s cabinet picks bring together a wealth of experience in federal government. The cabinet is composed of tried and true politicians, including but not limited to members of previous cabinets, former aides to the president-elect, members of his campaign team and congressional representatives.

But while Biden’s cabinet promises to bring experience, it has also garnered criticism for its lack of diversity, both in terms of identity and in terms of political belief. Many left leaning groups have criticized Biden for passing over women or people of color for positions that Biden has given to white men. 

Biden, however, has also been breaking barriers. Lloyd Austin will be the first Black man appointed as Secretary of Defense, Yellen will be the first female Secretary of the Treasury, Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico will be the first Native American in the role of Secretary of the Interior and Kamala Harris is historically the first female, first Black and first Asian American Vice President.

Biden has also come under fire for the lack of political diversity in his cabinet. Critics argue that while experienced, many of his cabinet members are too moderate for the modern political climate. Other progressives believe that Biden has had some solid picks, but still has a long way to go. In an article by the New York Times, Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, was quoted as saying, “liberal organizations have been largely happy with some of Mr. Biden’s picks,” but also adding, “Those at the tip of the spear [of the progressive movement] so far are not in the biggest positions.” This was before the recent naming of Haaland to Secretary of the Interior, which was a win for many progressives.

There still remain many cabinet positions to be named by the President-elect, and many more need to be confirmed by the Senate. Still, the picks so far give an insight into the manner in which the Biden administration will operate.