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President Elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet Picks so Far

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

A president’s cabinet has the power to shape an administration — especially in time like this in our country. As his inauguration approaches, President-elect Joe Biden is beginning to name cabinet members after the Trump administration approved the start of the transition.


Certain cabinet members must go through confirmation hearings by the Senate. Since it isn’t clear which party will control the Senate due to the upcoming Georgia runoffs, it is hard to predict whether this process will be easy or difficult for Biden’s team.


This is the most diverse pick of cabinet nominees ever seen in history, and it will be interesting to see the ways these individuals shape this country. As Biden rounds out his cabinet selections, he will be pressured by the media and officials to make diverse selections that are professionally apt.


Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State


Anthony Blinken has been nominated as Biden’s secretary of state. Blinken served as deputy secretary of state under both Obama administrations. 


He will likely strengthen a transatlantic alliance, and he will deal with foreign policy issues by working with allies inside treaties and organizations. Earlier this year, Blinken emphasized the importance of American leadership and organization.


Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser


Jake Sullivan will serve as the national security adviser. He worked as a senior policy advisor and chief counsel for Senator Amy Klobuchar. Following Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2008, he continued to work with her under the Obama administration. He was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and the director of policy planning.


Like Blinken, Sullivan will focus on strengthening global leadership of the U.S. He aims to keep up American values while also protecting the values of other countries.


Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.N. Ambassador


Linda Thomas-Greenfield has been nominated as the U.N. ambassador, a position she may regain after being fired by President Trump. During the Trump administration, this position was downgraded out of the cabinet, but Biden has brought it back. 

trump speaking at rally
Photo by Gage Skidmore from Flickr

Thomas-Greenfield has an extensive 35 years of experience as a U.S. ambassador. She also worked as a senior vice president in a private consulting firm where she worked with their Africa section.


John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate


John Kerry will serve as the first ever special presidential envoy for climate. As a member of the National Security Council, Kerry will work to address climate change as a relevant, pressing issue.


The former secretary of state will likely use his experience of working with other countries to control carbon emissions and advocate for sustainability.


Biden has been clear about rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement as soon as he is confirmed. During the Obama administration, Kerry worked extensively with this agreement.


Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary


Janet Yellen has been nominated as the first female treasury secretary. As the Fed chair, Yellen served from 2014 to 2018 and supervised what was the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. Clearly that has all changed since the coronavirus pandemic, but this prior time of economic expansion was extraordinary.


Republicans are likely to be more open to confirming Yellen since, compared to other economists who were being discussed for this job, she is considered less progressive. Nonetheless, she is experienced and equipped for this position.


Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence


Avril Haines has been nominated to serve as the first female director of national intelligence. She served in the intelligence sectors during the Obama and Clinton administrations.


Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security


Alejandro Mayorkas has been nominated as the secretary of homeland security. If confirmed, he will be the first immigrant and Latino to hold this position. He previously served as a director of the department’s legal immigration agency.

He would likely prioritize fixing the immigration system that he claims has widely differed from his own immigration experience. Mayorkas will be faced with unsealing the southern border while also keeping the immigration process safe.


Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services


Xavier Becerra has been nominated as the secretary of health and human services. If confirmed, he would be the first Latino to hold this position.


As the current attorney general of California, Becerra has put healthcare at the forefront of his agenda. He has defended the Affordable Care Act, which is something many Americans will be eagerly watching as the pandemic continues to rage.


Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense


Lloyd Austin has been nominated as the secretary of defense. A retired Army general and former commander of the U.S. Central Command, Austin would be the first black person to hold this position if confirmed.


Austin has previously worked with Biden in the Pentagon on foreign policy matters. Their close relationship could make the pick for this important position a worthwhile one.


Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development


Despite lobbying for herself to be the secretary of agriculture, Marcia Fudge has been nominated as the secretary of housing and urban development. She currently serves on the committee on house administration, house committee on agriculture, and house committee on education and labor.


Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture


Previously holding this position under the Obama administration, Tom Vilsack has been nominated as the secretary of agriculture. Since Biden is familiar with Vilsack’s work, he knows that he is experienced in this role. This position will work to provide relief to farmers who have struggled as a result of the pandemic.


Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veteran Affairs


Denis McDonough has been nominated as the secretary of veteran affairs. Serving as the chief of staff in the second Obama administration, McDonough has also worked with Biden.


McDonough did not serve in the military, which has been drawing concerns. VA has nine million veterans and is overall second to the Pentagon in their size and budget.


Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation


Pete Buttigieg has been nominated as the secretary of transportation. His popularity due to his presidential run has caused many to approve of his nomination.


Buttigieg is the first openly gay man to be nominated for a cabinet position and, if confirmed, would also be one of the youngest people to hold a cabinet position.


Jennifer Granholm, Energy Secretary


Jennifer Granholm has been nominated as the energy secretary. If confirmed, she would help Biden execute his $2 trillion climate proposal. The former attorney general and governor of Michigan also served as an energy advisor to Hillary Clinton.


Deb Haaland, Interior Secretary


Deb Haaland has been nominated as the interior secretary. If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Native American to hold this position.


Since the interior secretary works with handling public lands and being respectful of indigenous treaties, Haaland is a fitting person for this role. 


Michael Regan, EPA Administrator


Current environment secretary and former environmental protection agency official Michael Regan has been nominated as the EPA administrator. If confirmed, Regan would be the first African American man to hold this position.

person holding a sign that says "planet over profit"
Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash

As the Trump administration has deregulated climate protections, Regan will be an important advisor since Biden has made it clear that climate change is a top priority.


Ron Klain, Chief of Staff


Ron Klain will serve as Biden’s chief of staff. Klain worked with Biden during the Obama administration and during his time on the Senate Judiciary Committee in the ‘80s.


During the 2008 recession and Ebola crisis in 2013, Klain worked on both issues. Since similar problems are arising as Biden comes into office, Klain will draw on those experiences to advise.


Neera Tanden, Director of the Office of Management and Budget


Neera Tanden has been nominated as the director of the office of management and budget. If confirmed, she would be the first woman of color to hold this position.


Tanden served the Clinton administration, Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and the Obama administration. Republicans are giving this nomination a lot of pushback, and the results of the Georgia runoffs will determine the difficulty of her confirmation process.


Cecilia Rouse, Chair of Council of Economic Advisers

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm announcing her candidacy for presidential nomination
Photo by Library of Congress from Unsplash

Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Cecilia Rouse has been nominated as chair of the council of economic advisers. Rouse previously served as Obama’s council of economic advisers. She also worked in the Clinton administration at the national economic council. 


Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative


Katherine Tai has been nominated as the U.S. Trade Representative. Tai, the current chief trade counsel member at the House Ways and Means Committee, is widely described by her peers to be fitting for this role. If confirmed, she would be the first woman of color to serve in this position.

Anjali grew up in Boston and is currently a freshman at Penn State University studying Economics and Political Science. Her dream job is to work as a lawyer in New York City. You can find her doing pilates, listening to podcasts, or cooking for a post on her food account (@may_i_taste).
Arden Ericson will graduate Penn State in May of 2023. As one of the Campus Correspondents for Her Campus at PSU, she is a double-major in Public Relations and French Language. After graduation, she will pursue a career that combines her passion for educational equity, social justice and French.