(Reuters) - Democratic President-elect Joe Biden has begun nominating the members of his Cabinet and White House, working to fulfill his promise to build an administration that reflects the nation’s diversity.
Biden will name former Obama administration official Jeff Zients to be his White House coronavirus coordinator and former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to return to his previous role, Politico reported. He already has named leading members of his foreign policy and economic teams.
Here are some recent important picks and top contenders for prominent positions, according to Reuters reporting:
CORONAVIRUS COORDINATOR: JEFF ZIENTS
Zients, an economic adviser touted for his managerial skills, was tapped to save the bungled launch of the Affordable Care Act’s website for former President Barack Obama. Under Biden, he will oversee an unprecedented operation to distribute hundreds of millions of doses of a new vaccine, coordinating efforts across multiple federal agencies.
SURGEON GENERAL: VIVEK MURTHY
A physician and former surgeon general, Murthy gained prominence in recent months as co-chairman of Biden’s advisory board dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which the president-elect has pledged to make his top priority.
TREASURY SECRETARY: JANET YELLEN
The former Fed chair deepened the central bank’s focus on workers and inequality and has remained active in policy debates at the Brookings Institution think tank since Republican President Donald Trump replaced her as head of the central bank in 2018.
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: NEERA TANDEN
Tanden, president of the progressive Center for American Progress think tank, helped the Obama administration create the Affordable Care Act, the sweeping healthcare overhaul that was one of his central accomplishments and whose demolition became a goal for Republicans.
COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS CHAIR: CECILIA ROUSE
Rouse, a labor economist and dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs whose research has focused on the economics of education and tackling wealth inequality, was a member of Obama’s council of economic advisers from 2009 to 2011.
NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: BRIAN DEESE
The Obama administration veteran helped lead efforts to bail out the automotive industry during the 2009 financial crisis and helped negotiate the landmark Paris climate accord.
SECRETARY OF STATE: ANTONY BLINKEN
A longtime Biden confidant who served as No. 2 at the State Department and as deputy national security adviser in Obama’s administration.
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: JAKE SULLIVAN
Biden’s national security adviser when he served as vice president to Obama, Sullivan also served as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
HOMELAND SECURITY: ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS
A Cuba-born lawyer will be the first Latino and first immigrant to head the department if confirmed as secretary of homeland security. As head of Citizenship and Immigration Services under Obama, Mayorkas led implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for Dreamers, people who were brought to the United States as undocumented children. DACA drew Republican criticism and could lead to Republican opposition against Mayorkas in the Senate.
DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: AVRIL HAINES
Deputy national security adviser under Obama, and previously the first woman to serve as CIA deputy director, Haines is Biden’s nominee for director of national intelligence. Haines held several posts at Columbia University after leaving the Obama administration in 2017.
AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD
Biden’s nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is Thomas-Greenfield, who will take on a job that Biden plans to restore to a Cabinet level. She is a Black woman who served as Obama’s top diplomat on Africa from 2013 to 2017, leading U.S. policy in Africa south of the Sahara during the West African Ebola outbreak.
SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: JOHN KERRY
Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Kerry will act as “climate czar” in the Biden Administration. Kerry helped negotiate the Paris climate deal that Biden wants to re-join.
Michele Flournoy - She is the consensus front-runner for thejob, which would make her the first woman to lead the Pentagon. Flournoy served as a top Defense Department official in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations, advised Biden’s campaign on defense issues and co-founded a consulting firm with Blinken.
Jeh Johnson - Although best known as the former secretary of homeland security under the Obama administration, Johnson also served as Department of Defense general counsel in the early years of Obama’s presidency and as general counsel of the Air Force during the Clinton Administration. A career lawyer, sources say Johnson is also under consideration for Attorney General.
Lloyd Austin - A retired four-star general who oversaw U.S. forces in the Middle East as the head of U.S. Central Command under the Obama administration, Austin would bring another retired general back to the Pentagon’s top civilian post.
Tammy Duckworth - The U.S. senator from Illinois, who was considered as a possible Biden running mate, lost both her legs when her helicopter came under fire while she was an Army officer in Iraq in 2004. Duckworth was an assistant secretary of veterans affairs under Obama and would be the first Thai-American member of the Cabinet.
Sally Yates - A former deputy attorney general, Yates was briefly the acting attorney general early in Trump’s term before being fired for insubordination for refusing to defend travel restrictions targeting seven Muslim-majority nations.
Doug Jones - A former federal prosecutor with a strong civilrights record, he won a U.S. Senate seat in a 2017 specialelection in deeply conservative Alabama. Jones was defeated this year by Republican Tommy Tuberville, a former college football coach.
Tom Perez - A former labor secretary and one-time head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has been floated, though he might face an uphill battle winning confirmation in the U.S. Senate if it remains in Republican control.
Xavier Becerra - The former congressman who is currently California’s attorney general is also a contender.
Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall - A former adviser to Biden when he was in the U.S. Senate, she served in the Obama administration as deputy secretary of energy, where she led an initiative to address cyber and physical challenges to the powergrid. Sherwood-Randall is now a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Arun Majumdar - He was the first director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s agency that promotes and funds research and development of advanced energy technologies, and also served as acting undersecretary of energy from March 2011 to June 2012. He also worked at Alphabet Inc’s Google as vice president for energy before joining Stanford University’sfaculty.
Jay Inslee - He focused on climate change during his failed presidential bid in 2019 and was re-elected to a third term as governor of Washington state this year. Inslee has been pushed for consideration in the Cabinet by environmental activists given his efforts to pass a carbon tax and clean-fuels standard.
Ernest Moniz – He is a nuclear physicist who served as Obama’s second energy secretary. Moniz was a technical expert on Obama’s team that struck the 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program and would bring an emphasis on science back to the department. Moniz has been criticized by some environmental groups for his support of natural gas, in an “all of the above” stance on energy that included renewable power, when he was secretary.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Heather McTeer Toney - A former regional administrator of the EPA under Obama, the clean-air activist is national field director for Moms Clean Air Force. A favorite of progressives, Toney has advocated and trained diverse officials on leadership and climate in over 15 countries, including Kenya, France, Portugal, Nigeria and Senegal.
Mary Nichols - The former assistant administrator for the EPA during Clinton’s administration is chairwoman of California’s Air Resources Board, which regulates air pollution in the state.
Collin O’Mara – The CEO of the National Wildlife Federation served as an energy and environment advisor to Biden. Prior to working at the NWF, O’Mara was the youngest person to head up the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, from 2009 to 2014.
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
Michael Morell - He was the CIA’s deputy director and acting director of the agency twice under Obama. Morell is now the chairman of the geopolitical risk practice at Beacon Global Strategies, a Washington consulting firm.
Tom Donilon - The veteran diplomat and former national security adviser under Obama helped steer a White House agenda that increased the U.S. focus on the relationship with Asia. Donilon, a longtime adviser to Biden, worked on Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1988.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Mandy Cohen - She is a physician who serves as the secretary of North Carolina’s Health and Human Services Department, where she has been a major advocate for expanding Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income Americans. Cohen served as the chief operating officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under Obama, and is also under consideration to head that agency.
David Kessler - The former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration has been a co-chair of Biden’s advisory board on the coronavirus pandemic. As head of the FDA, Kessler cut the time needed to approve drugs to treat AIDS and moved to try to regulate the tobacco industry.
CHIEF OF STAFF: RON KLAIN
A longtime Biden adviser with experience in responding to the Ebola pandemic, Klain was picked for the chief of staff role that sets the president’s agenda.
Reporting by Julia Harte, John Whitesides, Mark Hosenball, Howard Schneider, Sarah N. Lynch, Arshad Mohammed, Phillip Stewart, Valerie Volcovici, David Brunnstrom, Michelle Nichols, Trevor Hunnicutt, Timothy Gardner, Mike Stone and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Aurora Ellis
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