Nov 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden transition names first Cabinet nominees

Tony Blinken

Tony Blinken at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in 2016. Photo: Pool / The Embassy of the United States of America in Baghdad/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his nominations for top national security positions in his administration, tapping former Secretary of State John Kerry as his climate czar and former deputy national security adviser Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: Haines, if confirmed, would make history as the first woman to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. Biden also plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first Latino secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Full list:

  • Secretary of State: Tony Blinken
  • National Security adviser: Jake Sullivan
  • Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines
  • Department of Homeland Security Secretary: Alejandro Mayorkas
  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: Linda Thomas-Greenfield
  • Special presidential envoy on climate: John Kerry

Between the lines, via Axios' Margaret Talev: The list, set to be announced at an event in Delaware on Monday, is a deliberate effort to package nominees in a way that suggests diversity.

  • Neither Sullivan nor Kerry will have to endure confirmation hearings, but it brings Kerry into the administration in what is likely to be an important role.
  • The list notably does not include Biden's pick to lead the Pentagon, a choice likely to draw intense scrutiny from anti-war and progressive Democrats.

The bottom line: All six of Biden’s national security picks held senior roles in the Obama administration, with several of them working in the agencies they have now been picked to lead — a reflection of Biden's obsession with bringing stability back to governance.

Go deeper: Unpacking Joe Biden's decision to tap John Kerry as his climate envoy

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