President-elect Joe Biden's top-level appointees and Cabinet picks

SHANNON K. CRAWFORD, LIBCATHEY and MEREDITH DELISO
·11 min read

The members of President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet and other senior officials will comprise his inner circle and shape his policies.

Here's a look at Biden's picks for the top posts in his administration:

MORE: Biden announces historic picks for foreign policy and national security Cabinet posts

Department of Justice

Biden nominated Judge Merrick Garland to serve as the nation's next attorney general on Jan. 7.

Garland, 68, serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He had been nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016 by President Barack Obama to fill the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia, but was never given a confirmation hearing by Senate Republicans who held the vacancy open for President Donald Trump to fill.

MORE: Biden expected to pick Merrick Garland as attorney general

Garland's nomination came as Democrats won two Senate races in Georgia, paving the way to a smoother confirmation process for Biden's nominees.

PHOTO: Judge Merrick Garland, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be U.S. Attorney General, speaks as Biden listens in Wilmington, Del., Jan. 7, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
PHOTO: Judge Merrick Garland, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be U.S. Attorney General, speaks as Biden listens in Wilmington, Del., Jan. 7, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Department of Labor

Biden announced Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his nominee for labor secretary on Jan. 7.

Walsh, 53, has served as the Democratic mayor of Boston since 2014. The pro-union politician had previously served as head of the Boston Trades Council. Biden spoke at Walsh's 2017 mayoral inauguration and they share Irish-American backgrounds.

Biden said he seriously considered Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the role but that both decided it was more important for their advancement of a shared political agenda to keep Sanders in the Senate.

PHOTO: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, nominee for Secretary of Labor, speaks after being nominated by President-elect Joe Biden in Wilmington, Del., Jan. 8, 2021. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, nominee for Secretary of Labor, speaks after being nominated by President-elect Joe Biden in Wilmington, Del., Jan. 8, 2021. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Department of Commerce

Biden announced he'd nominate Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to commerce secretary on Jan. 7

Raimondo, who was first elected governor in 2014 and chaired the Democratic Governors Association in 2019, was one of the women under consideration to be Biden's running mate and was a potential choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

MORE: Biden's been eyeing Democratic governors for Health and Human Services secretary

PHOTO: Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, nominee for Secretary of Commerce, speaks after being nominated by President-elect Joe Biden in Wilmington, Del., Jan. 8, 2021. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, nominee for Secretary of Commerce, speaks after being nominated by President-elect Joe Biden in Wilmington, Del., Jan. 8, 2021. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Department of Education

Biden announced Miguel Cardona as his nominee to head the Department of Education on Dec. 22.

Cardona currently serves as Connecticut's commissioner of education -- the first Latino to hold the position. A former public school teacher and student, he is a strong advocate for public education.

MORE: Video: Biden nominates Miguel Cardona for secretary of education

PHOTO: Miguel Cardona speaks after President-Elect Joe Biden announced him as his nominee for Education Secretary at the Queen theatre on Dec. 23, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Miguel Cardona speaks after President-Elect Joe Biden announced him as his nominee for Education Secretary at the Queen theatre on Dec. 23, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

Environmental Protection Agency

Biden announced Michael Regan as his nominee to head the EPA on Dec. 19.

Regan is no stranger to the agency, having previously served nearly a decade there under both Democratic and Republican presidents. He would be the first African American man to run the EPA if confirmed.

Regan is currently secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

PHOTO: President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris listen as their nominee for EPA Administrator Michael Regan speaks at The Queen Theater in Wilmington Del., Dec. 19, 2020.  (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
PHOTO: President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris listen as their nominee for EPA Administrator Michael Regan speaks at The Queen Theater in Wilmington Del., Dec. 19, 2020. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Department of the Interior

Biden nominated New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior.

If confirmed, she would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary.

MORE: Haaland makes history as Interior secretary nominee

At an event on Dec. 19 announcing his latest nominees, Biden noted the significance of having Haaland fill "a critical role."

"As the first Native American Cabinet secretary in the history of the United States of America, she'll be a true steward of our national parks, our natural resources and all of our lands," he said. "The federal government has long broken promises to Native American tribes who have been on this land since time immemorial. With her appointment, Congresswoman Haaland will help me strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship."

PHOTO: Rep. Deb Haaland delivers remarks after being introduced as US President-elect Joe Bidens nominee to be the next US Secretary of Interior at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Dec. 19, 2020. (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Rep. Deb Haaland delivers remarks after being introduced as US President-elect Joe Bidens nominee to be the next US Secretary of Interior at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Dec. 19, 2020. (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)

Department of Transportation

The president-elect announced on Dec. 15 he would nominate Pete Buttigieg to steer the Department of Transportation.

At 38, Buttigieg is the youngest of Biden's Cabinet picks so far. He is also poised to become the first openly gay person confirmed by the Senate to a Cabinet post.

PHOTO: Then Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg attends a campaign event in Las Vegas, Feb. 18, 2020. (Eric Thayer/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: Then Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg attends a campaign event in Las Vegas, Feb. 18, 2020. (Eric Thayer/Reuters, FILE)

Buttigieg is the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He ran against Biden in the Democratic primary and is seen as a rising star in the party.

As transportation secretary, Buttigieg would likely play a key part in implementing Biden's ambitious infrastructure plan, which aims to offset the impacts of climate change.

MORE: Buttigieg would make history if confirmed as Biden's transportation secretary

Department of Energy

Biden named former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his selection to head the Department of Energy on Dec. 17.

Granholm led the Wolverine State during the Great Recession, working with the Obama administration to rescue the U.S. auto industry while promoting investments in green energy.

PHOTO: Jennifer Granholm addresses the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, July 28, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Jennifer Granholm addresses the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, July 28, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images, FILE)

Granholm has been a strong advocate of zero-emissions vehicles and her selection is seen as an indication that Biden wants the department to play a principal role in fighting climate change.

If confirmed by the Senate, Granholm -- an immigrant from Canada -- would be just the second woman to serve as secretary of energy.

Department of Defense

Biden announced on Dec. 8 he will nominate retired four-star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead the Department of Defense.

MORE: Biden introduces historic defense secretary nominee as Congress debates waiver

Austin previously headed the military's Central Command, where he was in charge of all American troops in the Middle East. He retired from the military in 2016, after over four decades of service. Because he is less than seven years removed from active duty, he will require a waiver from Congress to hold the position.

MORE: Biden's pick to head Pentagon renews debate about civilian control of the military

If Austin is confirmed, he will become the first Black defense secretary in American history.

PHOTO: Retired General Lloyd Austin speaks after President-elect Joe Biden announced Austin as his nominee to be defense secretary during a news conference at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Del., Dec. 9, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
PHOTO: Retired General Lloyd Austin speaks after President-elect Joe Biden announced Austin as his nominee to be defense secretary during a news conference at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Del., Dec. 9, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Department of Agriculture

Biden, on Dec. 10, announced he will nominate former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to serve as his secretary of agriculture.

Vilsack led the department for eight years during the Obama administration after he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2009. Prior to that, he served two terms as governor of the Hawkeye State, and he is currently chief executive of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Vilsack would be the second member of the Obama administration to reprise their role in Biden's White House, joining the president-elect's nominee for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, in returning to their former posts if they are both confirmed by the Senate.

Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks at a campaign stop for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden in Burlington, Iowa on Jan. 31, 2020.  (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack speaks at a campaign stop for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden in Burlington, Iowa on Jan. 31, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Biden announced on Dec. 10 he will nominate Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge to serve as his secretary of housing and urban development.

Fudge is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and Committee on Education and Labor. She is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and was recently elected to a seventh term in Congress, representing the Cleveland area.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on April 23, 2020. (House Television via AP)
Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on April 23, 2020. (House Television via AP)

Amid the recession brought on by the pandemic, millions of Americans are struggling to pay rent, and federal eviction protections set to expire at the end of 2020. If confirmed by the Senate, Fudge may be forced to grapple with a housing crisis as she takes office.

MORE: 'Mass evictions' on the horizon as US confronts coronavirus housing crisis: Advocates

Department of Veterans Affairs

Denis McDonough, who served as former President Barack Obama's chief of staff in his second term, will be nominated, Biden said on Dec. 10, to serve as his secretary of veterans affairs.

McDonough was previously Obama's principal deputy national security adviser, including during the 2011 Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Prior to his eight-year White House tenure, McDonough served in senior leadership and policy-making positions in both chambers of Congress.

MORE: 'Mass evictions' on the horizon as US confronts coronavirus housing crisis: Advocates

He's credited with helping Obama bridge divides on Capitol Hill, including gaining support for the Veterans Choice Act which President Donald Trump later signed into law.

PHOTO: Denis McDonough speaks onstage during the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit at Grand Hyatt New York, Sept. 24, 2018. (Riccardo Savi/Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Denis McDonough speaks onstage during the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit at Grand Hyatt New York, Sept. 24, 2018. (Riccardo Savi/Getty Images, FILE)

Department of Health and Human Services

On Dec. 6, the president-elect announced he tapped California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to steer the Department of Health and Human Services, a critical role overseeing the implementation of the Biden administration's coronavirus response.

As California's top prosecutor, Becerra took on the Trump administration in more than 100 lawsuits on key issues like health care, immigration, gun control and environmental policies. Before becoming the state's attorney general, he served 12 terms in Congress, representing Los Angeles.

PHOTO: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaks following arguments about ending DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaks following arguments about ending DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)

Becerra does not have a background in medicine or public health, but he has established himself as advocate for the Affordable Care Act and women's health care.

MORE: As pandemic rages, Obamacare on the line at Supreme Court

Becerra, the son of Mexican immigrants, would be the first Latino to lead the department, if confirmed.

Department of Homeland Security

As part of a rollout of major foreign policy and national security appointments and nominees, the president-elect announced he would nominate Alejandro Mayorkas for secretary of homeland security on Nov. 23.

Mayorkas was born in Havana and came to the United States as a refugee. If the Senate votes to confirm him to the position, he would be the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the agency in charge of implementing the nation's immigration policies and border laws.

MORE: Supreme Court reviews Trump plan to exclude undocumented immigrants in redistricting

Mayorkas is a veteran of the department; he directed its legal immigration agency and previously served as the deputy secretary of homeland security. He is also one of the architects behind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

PHOTO: Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during the annual Cyberweek conference at Tel Aviv University, Israel June 20, 2016. (Amir Cohen/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during the annual Cyberweek conference at Tel Aviv University, Israel June 20, 2016. (Amir Cohen/Reuters, FILE)

Department of State

On Nov. 23, Biden tapped Antony Blinken as his choice for secretary of state.

Blinken has advised the president-elect on foreign policy for almost two decades. Previously, he served as deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration.

As the country's top diplomat, Blinken would be expected to play a pivotal part in the Biden administration's efforts to rebuild alliances and reenter international agreements like the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Climate Accord, as well as halt the country's exit from the World Health Organization.

PHOTO: In this file photo, US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken takes part in a naturalization ceremony at the US Holocaust Museum on June 20, 2016 in Washington. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: In this file photo, US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken takes part in a naturalization ceremony at the US Holocaust Museum on June 20, 2016 in Washington. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images, FILE)

Department of Treasury

On. Nov. 30, Biden named former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as his selection for treasury secretary. Yellen would be the first woman to serve in the role.

Yellen is currently an economist at the Brookings Institution. She was the first woman to helm the Fed, taking the reins in 2014 as the country recovered from the Great Recession.

A labor expert, Yellen is expected to garner support from progressives. A handful of Senate Republicans who are still in the chamber voted to confirm Yellen to her previous post at the central bank.

If confirmed as treasury secretary, Yellen would enter the post during one of the most trying economic times in modern history, with millions of Americans out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic and lagging job growth.

PHOTO: Janet Yellen speaks during a news conference  in Washington D.C., Dec. 13, 2017.mages) (Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Janet Yellen speaks during a news conference in Washington D.C., Dec. 13, 2017.mages) (Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILE)

Director of the Office of Management and Budget

As part of a rollout of his incoming economic leaders, Biden announced on Nov. 30 he would nominate Neera Tanden to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

A former aide to Hillary Clinton, Tanden currently serves as president and CEO of the left-leaning Center for American Progress. She faces an uphill confirmation battle as some Senate Republicans have already indicated her nomination won't pass the chamber's GOP majority, citing her past criticisms of Republican senators whose votes she would need.

MORE: Republicans attack, Democrats defend Biden's outspoken pick for OMB director

If confirmed, Tanden would be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to lead the OMB.

PHOTO: Center for American Progress Action Fund President Neera Tanden speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 27, 2016. (Mike Segar/Reuters, File)
PHOTO: Center for American Progress Action Fund President Neera Tanden speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 27, 2016. (Mike Segar/Reuters, File)

Director of National Intelligence

Biden announced on Nov. 23 that he would nominate Avril Haines as his director of national intelligence.

Haines is a former deputy director of the CIA, and served as principal deputy national security adviser under former President Barack Obama. She was the first woman to hold both of those roles.

If confirmed, she will become the first woman to lead the country's intelligence community.

PHOTO: Avril Haines, former deputy national security advisor and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Jan. 14, 2020, in Washington. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Avril Haines, former deputy national security advisor and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Jan. 14, 2020, in Washington. (Win Mcnamee/Getty Images)

National Security Adviser

Biden said he would appoint Jack Sullivan as his national security adviser on Nov. 23.

Sullivan previously served as deputy assistant to Obama and as national security adviser to Biden when he was vice president. He's also a former top aide to Hillary Clinton.

At 43, Sullivan would be the youngest person to hold the position since the Eisenhower administration.

This role does not require Senate confirmation.

PHOTO:  Jake Sullivan arrives for a closed-door deposition before the House Select Committee in Washington, Sept. 4, 2015. (Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Jake Sullivan arrives for a closed-door deposition before the House Select Committee in Washington, Sept. 4, 2015. (Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILE)

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

Biden said he would name former Secretary of State John Kerry as his special presidential envoy for climate on Nov. 23. The newly created role marks the first time the National Security Council will include an official dedicated to climate change.

The Biden transition team did not immediately provide details on what responsibilities the position would entail, but Kerry comes with an extensive resume.

As secretary of state, Kerry negotiated the Paris Climate Accord that was signed in 2016. A longtime Massachusetts senator, Kerry also advocated for climate reform on Capitol Hill. In 2004, he was the Democratic presidential nominee.

This position does not require Senate confirmation.

PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, left, speaks with former Secretary of State John Kerry during a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Feb. 1, 2020.  (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Former Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, left, speaks with former Secretary of State John Kerry during a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Feb. 1, 2020. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

US Ambassador to the United Nations

Biden announced he would nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Nov. 23.

Thomas-Greenfield was assistant secretary of state for Africa during the Obama administration. She has served in the Foreign Service for more than three decades.

If confirmed, she would be only the second black woman to ever hold the post.

PHOTO: In this file photo, Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a Bloomberg West Television interview in San Francisco, May 31, 2016. (Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: In this file photo, Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a Bloomberg West Television interview in San Francisco, May 31, 2016. (Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE)

Vice President

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2021.

Before she was elected to represent California in the U.S. Senate, she served as the state's attorney general. She ran against Biden in the 2020 Democratic primary race.

She's the first Black woman and first South Asian American to be elected to the second highest office in the land.

PHOTO: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks about economic recovery at The Queen theater, in Wilmington, Del., Nov. 16, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks about economic recovery at The Queen theater, in Wilmington, Del., Nov. 16, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/AP, FILE)

White House Chief of Staff

Biden announced he had tapped longtime adviser Ron Klain as his White House chief of staff on Nov. 11.

Klain served as Biden's chief of staff during his vice presidency. He also led the Obama administration's response to the Ebola outbreak.

This post does not require Senate confirmation.

PHOTO: Ron Klain participates in discussion at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2014. (Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: Ron Klain participates in discussion at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2014. (Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILE)

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