Enacting Joe Biden policies: Who might he pick for the cabinet?
President Donald Trump still hasn’t conceded from the presidential election Joe Biden is projected to win. Nevertheless, news outlets have started to wonder who’s on Biden’s shortlist to be in the next Cabinet. Biden has stated his intention to form a sense of unity in the White House many times during his campaign, which indicates he might try to choose moderates, much to the chagrin of progressive Democrats.
Biden also repeatedly stated he wants his Cabinet to “actually look like America”, according to USA Today, so many are expecting his Cabinet picks will include people of color & women in numerous roles. Here’s who’s rumored to be Biden’s top choices for each of the fifteen Cabinet positions.
Secretary of State
Susan Rice is a highly talked-about contender for becoming the next Secretary of State, according to Politico. She previously worked in Obama’s Cabinet as a U.N. ambassador and was a national security advisor during Obama’s administration.
Other contenders for the role include Antony Blinken, Senator Chris Coons, Senator Chris Murphy, and William Burns, according to Politico. However, as the Senate is a contentious battlefield, Biden might want to keep the senators in place to help the Democrats take the lead. Burns is another worthy contender, as he’s heavily worked as an ambassador and is the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Secretary of the Treasury
Lael Brainard is Politico’s prediction for the next treasury secretary, which could potentially make her the first woman to lead the department. She’s worked in both the Federal Reserve and in the treasury department during Obama’s presidency. However, as she’s a moderate, progressives criticized Brainard for not taking a stance on currency manipulation, according to The New York Times.
Senator Elizabeth Warren might be in the running, which could please progressives, but many others are also possibly going on Biden’s list: Sarah Bloom Raskin, Roger Ferguson, Mellody Hobson, and Raphael Bostic, according to Politico. The New York Times believes Janet Yellen could also be the next head of the Treasury, as she was a high-profile chair of the Federal Reserve and has a long career in economics.
Secretary of Defense
The New York Times reported Michèle Flournoy is the leading choice for being the next Secretary of Defense, as she worked in the department during Obama’s presidency. However, the Times acknowledged she might be criticized by progressives due to her extensive industry ties. Nevertheless, Flournoy is considered to be highly qualified for the job and Politico wrote she has “significant management experience”.
Senator Tammy Duckworth has the potential of being in a number of roles, especially since she was also considered to be on Biden’s shortlist for being the vice president before Harris took the role. Duckworth fought in Iraq and previously served under Obama in the Veterans Affairs Department. If either Flournoy or Duckworth become the Defense Secretary, she would be the first woman to lead the department.
According to The New York Times, Jeh Johnson is also in the running, which, if chosen, would make him the first Black secretary of defense. He was in Obama’s cabinet as the secretary of homeland security and has worked in the Pentagon. Like Flournoy, Johnson’s industry ties could be another point of contention with progressives, according to the Times.
The Attorney General, who leads the Justice Department, doesn’t seem to have a front runner, as many names have been thrown around the rumor mill. One of the most popular names is Doug Jones, who recently lost his senate seat to Tommy Tuberville. He’s reportedly a longtime friend of Biden, according to Politico, and previously worked as a U.S. attorney under Bill Clinton.
Other names that have been mentioned are DNC Chair Tom Perez, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Sally Yates, who was fired by Trump for refusing to defend his Muslim ban, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Becerra seems to be in the running for many positions, as he also might be Harris’s replacement as the next senator for California, according to The New York Times.
Secretary of the Interior
According to Politico, the head of the Interior Department, has three likely contenders, all coming from New Mexico. New Mexico Senator Tom Udall has the advantage of being the son of a former secretary of the interior. New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland could potentially be the first Native American in the position and has a record of promoting land & water conservation, according to Politico.
New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich is another potential contender and has also worked on land conservation, helping pass two land-focused bills through Congress. According to The New York Times, Montana Governor Steve Bullock might be in the running, as he’s been active in environmental reform.
Secretary of Agriculture
According to Politico, Senator Heidi Heitkamp is Biden’s top choice for the secretary of agriculture, which would be a controversial choice for many environmentalists and some on the left. Though Heitkamp is a democrat, she was also on Trump’s shortlist and has publicly supported the Keystone XL oil pipeline, according to Politico.
Another contender is Representative Marcia Fudge, who’s been pushed by various members of the Congressional Black Caucus, according to Politico. Representative Cheri Bustos is also in the running, as she’s in the House Agriculture Committee, though Politico says Democrats may want her to keep her seat in the House.
Secretary of Commerce
The department of commerce has some of the eclectic rumored choices, as two CEOs are in the running. Meg Whitman, who ran as a republican when she campaigned to be governor of California, is the CEO of the infamous short video company Quibi. She was also a CEO at eBay & Hewlett Packard. Whitman may face scrutiny for her views, but Politico says it could be a move for Biden to show a sense of unity with republicans.
Co-CEO of Ariel Investments Mellody Hobson would be a controversial choice for progressives, as she has connections to the financial services sector, according to Politico, but she could still be embraced by the Congressional Black Caucus.
A politician in the running is Terry McAuliffe, which wouldn’t be the first time he would be considered for a position in the Commerce Department. Before he entered the world of politics, McAuliffe was a banker & investor, according to Politico. He worked closely with the Clintons over the years and is a former Virginia governor. McAuliffe now works as a visiting professor at George Mason University.
Secretary of Labor
Biden is reportedly looking to put a progressive-leaning person in this role, according to Politico, and the rumored contenders seem to fit that claim. If Republicans gain control of the Senate, this idea might be much more difficult to complete. However, as of right now, two of the top contenders are Representative Andy Levin & California Labor Secretary Julie Su.
Of course, one of the most rumored contenders is Senator Bernie Sanders. It would be a major win for progressives and Sanders seems interested in the job. Tom Perez is also in the running, as he was Obama’s Labor Secretary, along with Bill Spriggs, who has worked with unions in the past.
Secretary of Health & Human Services
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is a likely choice for the Health & Human Services Department, as she’s currently on Biden’s transition team, but she’s also a possible choice for being Biden’s interior secretary. Dr. Vivek Murthy, who was recently selected as the co-chair of Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board, is another contender. Dr. Murthy was also the U.S. surgeon general under Obama.
Another potential choice is Dr. Mandy Cohen, who’s North Carolina’s current secretary of health & human services. The New York Times reported she’s been trying to change the way North Carolina pays for health care. Dr. Cohen also worked under Obama at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The New York Times also predicts Dr. David Kessler is in the running. Dr. Kessler helped tackle the tobacco industry and worked with Dr. Anthony Fauci on developing drugs to help treat H.I.V. He was also a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
Secretary of Education
Biden has publicly said he’s committed to place a public school teacher as the secretary of education, so many educators are slated to be in the running. Elementary school teacher & former president of the National Education Association Lily Eskelsen García and Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond are two of the biggest contenders, according to Politico
Despite endorsing Senator Elizabeth Warren in the primaries, former high school teacher & the current President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten is also in the mix, according to The New York Times.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Politico thinks Alvin Brown is at the top of Biden’s list for Housing & Urban Development, especially with his history in the department under the Clinton administration. Another top contender is Maurice Jones, who was Obama’s HUD deputy secretary. According to Politico, Jones now works at the non-profit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which “supports community development”.
Some women are being considered for the HUD position as well. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has dedicated much of her tenure to promoting affordable housing in Atlanta, according to The New York Times. She was also considered to be Biden’s VP. Representative Karen Bass, another VP consideration, might also be chosen, especially as she worked as a community organizer and is known for working on housing in L.A.
Diane Yentel might also be in the running, as she’s currently leading the non-profit group, National Low Income Housing Coalition. Like Jones, Yentel worked in Obama’s HUD department as the director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division.
Secretary of Transportation
For the secretary of transportation spot, Biden seems to be focused on politicians in local government. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has been floated around as being a Biden Cabinet pick, especially in transportation. He’s focused much of his work as mayor in transportations needs, like making efforts to implement clean-air buses and making plans to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025, according to The New York Times.
Representative Earl Blumenauer, who was a former Portland city councilperson, is also in the running. Blumenauer has focused much of his policy in the transit business and was co-chair of the Congressional Bike Caucus, according to Politico.
A more controversial choice, however, would be former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has also been rumored to be in the running, according to Politico. If chosen, he’ll face massive scrutiny, especially from Chicagoans who didn’t like how he handled the police shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014.
Secretary of Energy
Biden seems to be focusing on science professor for his Energy Secretary pick, as most of his top reported choices are professors at some of the most competitive universities in the U.S. MIT professor & nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz seems to be the biggest contender, as he was the Energy Secretary during Obama’s second term, but he has ties to fossil fuel companies, which concerns climate change activists, according to Politico.
Georgia Institute of Technology professor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall is also in the running, having worked in various roles under Obama, including as the deputy secretary of energy. Stanford professor Arun Majumdar is another contender and has also worked in the Energy Department.
The New York Times predicts Jay Inslee is a potential contender, which would be a win for environmental activists. When Inslee tried to run for president, his top priority was climate change and he promoted plans to close coal plants and reach net-zero emission by 2045, according to The New York Times. Though Inslee might be picked to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency as well.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Pete Buttigieg is a contender in multiple spots in Biden’s cabinet, including the U.N. Ambassador spot, but the most likely position he can grab is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. A former Navy officer, he’s spoken largely about foreign policy and was endorsed by VoteVet, a progressive group for veterans, according to The New York Times.
Obama’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Bob McDonald, might also be in the running, according to The New York Times, while Politico thinks President of Veterans Community Project Jason Kander & Senator Duckworth have a chance of being the next head of Veterans of Affairs.
Secretary of Homeland Security
Alejandro Mayorkas may be the leading possibility as the next secretary of Homeland Security, given his extensive work under Obama. He helped implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program when he was the director of CIS, but Mayorkas could see opposition from the Republican party, according to Politico. If chosen, Mayorkas would be the first Latino secretary.
California attorney general Xavier Becerra is also in the running, according to Politico, while the Times thinks Representative Val Demings, who was reportedly on Biden’s VP shortlist, might also be the next Homeland Security Secretary.
Southern California freelance writer Victoria Stuewe has loved the art of cinema her entire life. She writes about everything from silent German cinema to the best of today’s independent films. When not watching film, she’s either reading at her favorite coffee shop or catching up on great television.