Janet Yellen appointed to key Joe Biden cabinet role – find out who his picks are and why they matter

President-elect Joe Biden has formally announced some key cabinet picks for his top teams.

The list brings together people who worked in the Obamaadministration and the White House, with some who have relationships with Mr Biden dating back many years.

It also marks several firsts for America – including the first woman to lead national intelligence, the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and the first ever climate change envoy.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks to reporters following an online meeting with members of the National Governors Association (NGA) executive committee in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner
Image:Joe Biden’s new cabinet appointments reflect one of the most diverse in US history

Many are well-known to foreign diplomats around the world and share a belief in strong US alliances internationally and multilateral organisations but are also wary of foreign interventions after the conflicts in Iraqand Afghanistan.

Here’s who Mr Biden plans to bring on board – and more importantly, why they matter.

John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate

John Kerry has a lot of experience in global crises
Image:John Kerry has a lot of experience in global crises

John Kerry, the former secretary of state, will be climate czar.

A statement released by the transition office said Mr Kerry “will fight climate change full-time as special presidential envoy for climate and will sit on the National Security Council”.

Mr Kerry is perhaps the most well-known of Mr Biden’s appointments, with a lot of experience in global crises.

On Twitter, he said he looked forward to working with “young leaders of the climate movement”.

This group, spearheaded by the Sunrise Movement, helped get Mr Biden elected.

Many support the Green New Deal and will be holding Mr Biden’s feet to the fire.

Unlike others, this role doesn’t need Senate confirmation.

Janet Yellen, treasury secretary

Janet Yellen was head of Federal Reserve for a period under Donald Trump
Image:Janet Yellen was head of Federal Reserve for a period under Donald Trump

Ms Yellen is seen as a safe pair of hands at the tiller of the country’s economy after one of the sharpest contractions in US GDP in history.

She served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, when she placed a greater emphasis than previous Fed chairs on maximising employment and less focus on price inflation.

Ms Yellen, if confirmed by the Senate, would be the first woman to serve as treasury secretary, after breaking ground as the first woman to chair the Fed.

Mr Biden has also selected Wally Adeyemo to be Ms Yellen’s deputy, which would make him the first Black deputy treasury secretary.

Ms Yellen, whose nomination has been met with general approval, tweeted: “To recover, we must restore the American dream – a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children. As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all.”

Antony Blinken, secretary of state, one of Mr Biden’s closest and longest-serving foreign policy advisers

Antony Blinken compared Brexit to the rise of Marine Le Pen in France
Image:Antony Blinken compared Brexit to the rise of Marine Le Pen in France

Mr Blinken has previously said Brexit was like a dog being run over by a car – a “total mess”.

He compared it to the rise of far right leader Marine Le Pen in France.

So, Boris Johnson may have some persuading to do and some delicate conversations ahead.

Like Mr Biden, expect Mr Blinken to be pushing hard on the sanctity of the Northern Irish peace deal in any Brexit negotiations.

He is widely viewed as a pragmatic centrist on foreign policy who has supported past American interventions and is well respected by some Republicans.

Democrats say they hope he will revive what they see as a beleaguered State Department and the career Foreign and Civil Service.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Barack Obama described him as “outstanding” and “smart, gracious, a skilled diplomat, well-regarded around the world”.

Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas will need to rebuild faith in his department
Image:Alejandro Mayorkas will need to rebuild faith in his department

Served as deputy Homeland Security secretary from 2013 to 2016.

He’d be the first Latino to run the department if confirmed and will be tasked with implementing and managing the nation’s immigration policies.

He’s a Cuban-born immigrant whose family fled the Castro revolution.

He also worked as an attorney in California.

He’ll need to work on rebuilding faith in the department after President Trump, some critics say, turned it into a passive recipient of his most controversial policies.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations

Linda Thomas-Greenfield has been nominated as Joe Biden's US Ambassador to the United Nations
Image:Linda Thomas-Greenfield has been nominated as Joe Biden’s US Ambassador to the United Nations

Mr Biden’s nominee to become the next US ambassador to the United Nations served as Barack Obama’s top diplomat on Africa from 2013 to 2017.

In the role, she led US policy in Africa south of the Sahara during the West African Ebola outbreak, during which thousands of people died but many lives were saved by international intervention.

She will take on a job that Mr Biden plans to restore to a Cabinet level. The first black woman to occupy the role was Susan Rice, under Mr Obama.

Avril Haines, director of national intelligence

Avril Haines has been appointed Director of National Intelligence.
Image:Avril Haines has been appointed Director of National Intelligence

She’d be the first woman appointed to this position.

Ms Haines served as deputy director of the CIA in the Obama administration before succeeding Tony Blinken as Mr Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

She, too, is a former aide to Mr Biden.

There are no great shocks, no great controversies or creative elements in any of these appointments.

Many of the picks are people Mr Biden has worked with for a long time and trusts deeply – a signature quality of his leadership preferences.

They are largely centrist globalists who will want to restore relations with organisations like NATOthat President Trump heavily criticised.

There are more women and more people of colour than we’ve seen in the past four years – a sign Mr Biden wants to be seen to be reflecting America’s demographics.

Deb Haaland, possible interior secretary

If selected Deb Haaland will be the first Native American cabinet secretary
Image:If selected Deb Haaland will be the first Native American cabinet secretary

His team are also vetting Representative Deb Haaland for the interior secretary post.

The Democratic Representative for New Mexico and member of the Pueblo of Laguna, would be the first Native American cabinet secretary.

Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director

Kate Bedingfield, White house communications director
Image:Kate Bedingfield, potentially White house communications director

Kate Bedingfield, who Mr Biden has chosen as White House communications director, was his campaign spokeswoman.

She will be part of a team that includes veteran Democratic spokeswoman Jen Psaki as press secretary.

Cecilia Rouse, Council of Economic Advisers chair

Cecilia Rouse
Image:Cecilia Rouse has been nominated as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers

The economist at Princeton University has been nominated as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

She would be the first black woman to lead the council, which advises the president on economic policy.

She was a member of the council under Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011.

Neera Tanden, Office of Management and Budget head

Neera Tanden
Image:Neera Tanden has been proposed as head of the Office of Management and Budget.

Mr Biden has proposed the current chief executive of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank as head of the Office of Management and Budget.

As a daughter of Indian immigrants, she would be the first Asian heritage woman to run the OMB.

Ms Tanden helped the Obama administration create the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare overhaul popularly known as

Obamacare, which Republicans have tried to dismantle, and she is expected to face a tough confirmation hearing process when it reaches the Senate.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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