Joe Biden’s Presidential Cabinet: Everything We Know

Photo credit: Joe Raedle - Getty Images
Photo credit: Joe Raedle – Getty Images

From Marie Claire

Within 48 hours of being declared the next president of the United States, Joe Biden jumped into action. By the morning of Nov. 9, he had launched a new website outlining four central priorities for the beginning of his term, assembled a COVID-19 task force, and, following a meeting with his 13-member, doctor-led team, delivered a briefing outlining his pandemic response plan.

Next up on Biden’s agenda for the post-election, pre-inauguration interregnum period is likely a plan to begin appointing members of his Cabinet. The president is in charge of hiring (and, if you’re Donald Trump, repeatedly firing) the Cabinet, which includes the leaders of 15 federal departments, including Education, Justice, State, and Defense, as well as the vice president and a handful of other high-ranking administration officials. Typically, the president-elect begins assembling the Cabinet shortly after being elected so that the Senate can begin holding hearings in early January and confirm the appointments as soon as the presidential term begins.

Biden has yet to name any members of his Cabinet—besides Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, of course—but here’s everything we know so far about when he’ll do so, and who he’ll be appointing.

What has Joe Biden said about filling out his Cabinet?

In stark contrast to Trump’s overwhelmingly white and male Cabinet, Biden has repeatedly expressed his desire to assemble an advisory group that more accurately reflects the demographics of the country they’re serving, a mission that began with the selection of the nation’s first Black, Asian-American, female vice president-elect as his running mate.

“I said from the outset I wanted a campaign that represented America, and I think we did that. Now that’s what I want the administration to look like,” Biden said in his Nov. 7 victory speech after being named the 46th POTUS. And earlier this year, he expanded even more on what that might look like: “Men, women, gay, straight, center, across the board, Black, white, Asian—it really matters that it looks like the country, because everyone brings a slightly different perspective,” he said in April.

A diverse administration, then, is expected to be a mix of many women (if not a majority), BIPOC leaders, progressive and moderate Democrats, and potentially even some moderate Republicans, which would support Biden’s repeated commitment to work across the aisle. Such a Cabinet could further make history if it includes people of color and/or women at the top of the Treasury and Defense departments, which Politico notes are the two remaining departments that have only ever been led by white men.

Biden will have to be especially strategic in his Cabinet choice, since he wouldn’t want to pluck too many Democrats from Congress and risk losing his party’s majority in the House of Representatives. Additionally, pending the results of Georgia’s two Senate runoffs, the confirmation of those choices could be in the hands of a majority-Republican Senate. If so, Biden may have trouble getting progressive Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders into his Cabinet, as evidenced by an interview Lindsey Graham gave on Nov. 6 in which he admitted that Biden “deserves a Cabinet,” but warned that “there may be some people that I just can’t vote for because I think they’re unqualified or too extreme.”

When will Joe Biden start naming Cabinet members?

Though Biden’s first week as president-elect will focus on healthcare, according to The New York Times, he may name a select few Cabinet members, including his Chief of Staff, within the next few days. The role of White House Chief of Staff is reportedly expected to be filled by Ron Klain, who held the same title when Biden was vice president.

The majority of Cabinet positions, however, still have yet to be decided. An unnamed source with knowledge of the Biden-Harris transition team’s plans told the Times that the heads of departments including Health and Human Services, State, and Justice could be named by the end of this month, beginning around Thanksgiving. Appointment decisions will reportedly be made based on Biden’s discussions with his advisers and lawyers.

Who might be appointed to Joe Biden’s Cabinet?

As we wait for Biden and his transition team to begin publicly announcing their picks for the 22 remaining Cabinet positions (the vice president is the 23rd), several outlets have assembled comprehensive lists of who might get the nod for each spot, based on information from Biden’s team, sources close to the candidates, lobbyists, and general knowledge of the nation’s leaders in each area of expertise.

Here, according to Politico, The New York Times, and USA Today, are potential choices for most of the spots in Biden’s Cabinet (options for the director of the Office of Management and Budget, director of National Intelligence, and administrator of the Small Business Administration have yet to be reported).

Secretary of Agriculture: Heidi Heitkamp; Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio; Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.

Secretary of Commerce: Rohit Chopra; Susan Helper; Meg Whitman; Terry McAuliffe; Mellody Hobson

Secretary of Defense: Michele Flournoy; Jeh Johnson; Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

Secretary of Education: Randi Weingarten; Lily Eskelsen Garcia; Linda Darling-Hammond

Secretary of Energy: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich.; Ernest Moniz; Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall; Arun Majumdar

Secretary of Health and Human Services: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel; Dr. Vivek Murthy; New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham; Dr. Mandy Cohen

Secretary of Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas; Vanita Gupta; Julian Castro; Xavier Becerra

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; California Rep. Karen Bass; Alvin Brown; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Diane Yentel; Maurice Jones

Secretary of the Interior: David Hayes; New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich; New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall; Mark Begich; Mark Udall; Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva; New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland

Secretary of Labor: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; William Spriggs; Sharon Block; Julie Su; Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich.; Sara Nelson; Tom Perez

Secretary of State: Susan Rice; Antony Blinken; William Burns; Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.; Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

Secretary of Transportation: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Beth Osborne; Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Rahm Emanuel

Secretary of the Treasury: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Lael Brainard; Roger Ferguson; Sarah Bloom Raskin; Mellody Hobson; Raphael Bostic; Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo

Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Pete Buttigieg; Jason Kander

Attorney General: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Sally Yates; Stacey Abrams; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Preet Bharara; Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.; Xavier Becerra; Tom Perez

White House Chief of Staff: Ron Klain; Steve Ricchetti

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Mary Nichols; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Heather McTeer Toney

U.S. Trade Representative: Jennifer Hillman; Miriam Sapiro; Tom Nides; Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif.; Nelson Cunningham

Director of the CIA: Avril Haines; Thomas E. Donilon; Michael Morell

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