Introducing President Biden’s cabinet picks

Biden’s cabinet stands to be one of the most diverse with several firsts like Rachel Levine (first transgender), Janet Yellen (first female Sec. of Treasury), Lloyd Austin (first Black Sec. of Defense), Pete Buttigieg (first openly gay), Deb Haaland (first Native American), and Alejandro Mayorkas (first immigrant Sec. of Homeland Security).

By: Alina Issakhanian

President Biden’s cabinet picks are some of the most diverse in terms of race, gender, sexuality, etc., and it is a complete shift from what was seen during the Trump administration. While Former-President Donald Trump steered towards appointing those who were deal-makers, loyal, and had a lot of personal wealth, President Biden moves towards prioritizing diversity, with more women and non-white cabinet members and people who have proven to be suitable for the position than ever seen before. 

Here’s a look at the cabinet members nominated by President Biden:

Secretary of State

Anthony Blinken is a longtime Biden confidant who served as No. 2 at the State Department and as deputy national security advisor in the Obama administration. His role as Secretary of State calls for services to the President as a principal advisor on U.S. foreign policy and conducting negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs.

Assistant Health Secretary

Rachel Levine will make history as the first transgender Cabinet-level nominee and first openly LGBTQ+ person nominated to a permanent cabinet member position. Levine will serve under Xavier Becerra, Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Levine is currently Pennsylvania’s top health official and is a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine.

Director of the Office of Science and Technology

Eric Lander is a pioneering geneticist who will take this cabinet position as well as serve in the role of Presidential Science Advisor. Lander is a Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who helped lead the Human Genome Project.

Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission

Gary Gensler will take the position of the country’s top securities regulator and has led Biden’s transition planning for financial industry oversight. From 2009 to 2014, Gensler was the chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 

Attorney General

Merrick Garland will lead the U.S. Department of Justice and be the chief lawyer of the federal government. Garland has been a federal appeals court judge since 1997 and was nominated by Former-President Obama for the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016, but was refused consideration by the Senate Majority Leader at the time, Mitch McConnell. 

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

As the head of the CIA, William Burns will manage the agency’s intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, as well as oversee the management of foreign intelligence. Burns was previously a U.S. diplomat, ambassador to Russia, and secretary of state under President Barack Obama.

Secretary of Commerce

Gina Raimondo will take the position of Secretary of Commerce where she will be responsible for representing U.S. businesses within the cabinet, interacting with communities, businesses, workers, etc., in order to promote economic growth and job creation, among other things. Raimondo is the Democratic governor of Rhode Island and a lawyer with a background in venture capital. 

Secretary of Labor

As Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh will oversee the enforcement of key laws affecting workers and employers. He is known to have backed both a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave, as well as expressing interest in expanding union membership. Walsh was also elected mayor of Boston in 2013 and still holds that position.

Secretary of the Treasury

Janet Yellen will take the role of Secretary of the Treasury, acting as a principal advisor to President Biden and the Cabinet on economic issues, as well as taking responsibility over many economic duties such as paying the nation’s bills, collecting taxes, etc. She will be the first woman to serve as Treasury Secretary. Yellen was also the former Federal Reserve chair and deepened the central bank’s focus on workers and inequality. 

Secretary of Defense

Lloyd Austin, who oversaw U.S. forces in the Middle East under the Obama administration, will be the first Black U.S. Secretary of Defense. As Defense Secretary, Austin will oversee the Defense Department and act as the principal defense policymaker and advisor. 

Secretary of Transportation

Pete Buttigieg will oversee the U.S. Department of Transportation and its 13 agencies, as well as serve as the principal advisor to President Biden on all matters regarding federal transportation programs. Buttigieg is the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and was one of the Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election. He will be the first openly gay individual to serve in the cabinet.

Secretary of Agriculture

Tom Vilsack led the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Obama administration and was governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007. As the secretary of agriculture, Vilsack will take the lead with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the development of implementing policy on agriculture, food, and farming. He will act as the main advisor to president Biden on policies made in the interest of farmers, ranchers, and general consumers. 

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

 Marcia Fudge has served in the House of Representatives since 2008 and will now take the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In this position, she will be responsible for advising President Biden on national policies and programs regarding America’s housing needs,  as well as enforcing fair housing laws. She will be the second Black woman to lead the Housing and Urban Development Department. 

Secretary of Education

Miguel Cardona is currently Connecticut’s education commissioner and a former teacher. President Biden pledged to choose a professional educator for this position, as it calls for the supervision and leadership of the Department of Education, federal policies, and programs related to education in the U.S.

Secretary of the Interior

Deb Haaland has been a Democratic congresswoman since 2019 and will be the first Native American cabinet secretary and the first to oversee the department with jurisdiction over tribal lands. Her duties include leading the department that manages and sustains America’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources, among other things. 

Secretary of Energy

Jennifer Granholm, who served as Michigan’s first female governor and worked in Biden’s office on the bailout of auto manufacturers during the Great Recession when he was vice president under Obama, will take the position as Secretary of Energy. In this position, Granholm is expected to lead an agency tasked with maintaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent, reducing the threat of nuclear proliferation, overseeing the U.S. energy supply, and more duties relating to energy in the U.S.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Denis McDonough, the White House Chief of Staff and national security adviser to Obama during his second term, will take on the position that calls for him to oversee the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, providing health, education, disability, funerary, and financial benefits earned by veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas will be the first immigrant to head the Department of Homeland Security, overseeing efforts to counter terrorism and enhance security, secure and manage U.S. borders, enforce immigration laws, and facilitate trade and travel. Mayorkas is a Cuban-born lawyer who served as head of Citizenship and Immigration Services and led the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for “Dreamers”  in the Obama administration.

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Xavier Becerra, California attorney general and former 12-term congressman who played a key role in passing the Affordable Care Act, will take position as the lead of the Department of Health and Human Services. His duties will include overseeing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), setting Medicare/Medicaid policies, and managing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director

Rochelle Walensky, currently the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will fill a key role in the Biden administration’s battle with the Coronavirus. 

Coronavirus Coordinator

Jeff Zients is known to former Obama staffers as “Mr. Fix It” for his ability to “fix” failing government projects, according to the LA Times. He will oversee the operation to distribute doses of a Coronavirus vaccine, while also coordinating efforts across multiple federal agencies.

Surgeon General

Vivek Murthy is a physician and the former surgeon general, gaining prominence as co-chairman of Biden’s advisory board in dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. In the position of Surgeon General, he will be refilling his former role of providing citizens with up-to-date and accurate, scientific information on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of illness and injury.

Ambassador to the United Nations 

Linda Thomas-Greenfield will be the second Black woman to take the position of ambassador to the U.N., which includes duties such as advising the president on international affairs, peace, and security. Thomas-Greenfield served as Obama’s top diplomat to Africa, and led the U.S. policy in Africa south of the Sahara during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

United States Trade Representatives

Katherine Tai will now be responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, while also overseeing negotiations with other countries. Tai played a key role in negotiating stronger labor provisions with the Trump administration in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal. 

White House Domestic Policy Council Director

Susan Rice is an experienced national security official, as she has served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Assistant Secretary of State, and was the national security advisor during Obama’s second term. In this new position, she will help coordinate the domestic policy-making process and ensure that domestic policy decisions are consistent with the President’s stated goals

Office of Management and Budget Director

Neera Tanden is the president of the progressive Center for American Progress think tank, and played a role in helping to create Obamacare. As the director of the Office of Management and Budget she will assist the President in overseeing the preparation of the Federal budget and supervise its administration in Executive Branch agencies. 

Council of Economic Advisers Chair

Cecilia Rouse was a former member of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, a labor economist, and the dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Her new position will call on her to prepare the annual Economic Report, as well as analyze information on economic developments and trends. 

National Security Adviser

Jack Sullivan was formally the national security adviser during the Obama administration, as well as deputy chief to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His new position calls for helping draft national security and foreign policy speeches, helping to prepare for meetings with congressional leaders, briefing the president on all issues of the moment, and many other responsibilities and duties.

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines served as a Deputy National Security Adviser during the Obama administration and was the first woman to serve as a CIA Deputy Director. As the new Director of National Intelligence, she will serve as the head of the Intelligence Community, overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program budget and serving as the principal advisor to the President, among other tasks. 

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

John Kerry, a former Senator and Secretary of State to President Obama, will now take a position where he will help guide the country’s climate diplomacy. 

Environmental Protection Agency

Michel Regen will be the first Black man to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He has worked for the EPA during both the Clinton and the Bush administrations, and is the top environmental regulator in North Carolina.

Domestic Climate Policy Coordinator

Gina McCarthy, who ran the U.S. EPA under Obama and managed some of the administration’s rules for air and water pollution, will take the position of Domestic Climate Policy Coordinator. 

White House Chief of Staff

Ron Klain is a longtime Biden advisor and was chosen for this role, which sets the president’s agenda, mediates disputes, and deals with issues before they are brought to the chief executive.