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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some Black lawmakers are demanding Joe Biden tap an African American nominee to lead the Treasury, complicating prospects for establishment women — like Lael Brainard, Janet Yellen and Sarah Bloom Raskin — to become the first female Treasury secretary.

Why it matters: That could put high-profile Black candidates from the financial services industry in play, including Roger Ferguson, the CEO of TIAA, and Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments.

The big picture: As a Biden victory looks increasingly likely, Democratic Party interest groups are looking to personnel decisions as a way to consolidate power and steer the direction of his prospective presidency.

  • "We all know that minorities have been mistreated historically by the fiscal policies of this country," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who is spearheading the effort, told me. "There's no substitute for being in charge."
  • "This is the right time to recognize the most loyal voice of people that the Democratic Party has ever had," Thompson said. "And that's the African American vote."

What we're hearing: Senior Black lawmakers tell Axios that they won't settle for departments like Housing and Urban Development or Health and Human Services that have traditionally gone to minorities. They want top-tier and "nontraditional" posts.

  • Within the Congressional Black Caucus, there's a push to make Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio the Secretary of Agriculture.
  • Thompson also has made it clear he wants Biden to look at candidates with different backgrounds. "Everybody couldn't go to Yale and Harvard and Princeton," he said. "We don't want any artificial barriers."

Between the lines: Biden has promised to assemble a Cabinet with racial and gender diversity — and he's aggravated party progressives by not ruling out executives with Wall Street experience.

  • “If you take the left at their word, Mellody Hobson should not be considered because right now she is the president of a major asset management firm; that is wrong,” said Paul Thornell, a Black lobbyist at Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas.

Progressives counter there are worthy Black candidates who didn't work on Wall Street.

  • "You don't have to choose between racial diversity and ideological purity," said Jeff Hauser, the founder of the Revolving Door Project.
  • He says Howard University economics professor William Spriggs and Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic are "two progressives who don't come from the financial services sector."

But, but, but: Not all Black lawmakers are prioritizing Black nominees so publicly. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the CBC's chair, tells Axios the caucus "is singularly focused on making sure Biden-Harris are elected on Nov. 3."

  • “The Biden-Harris transition team is not making any personnel decisions pre-election,” said Cameron French, Biden transition spokesperson.

Go deeper: Joe Biden could have the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history

Go deeper

Jan 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: 85% diversity on Biden people team

President Joe Biden conducts a virtual swearing-in ceremony for members of his new administration. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration will announce a slate of political appointees to the Office of Personnel Management on Monday, and more than 85% of them identify as people of color, women or LGBTQ, according to a copy of the list obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: President Biden has pledged a diverse Cabinet and government, and his gatekeepers to it reflect that promise through their own ranks.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

Mayors see cryptocurrency as a way to address income inequality

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in D.C. this week, there's buzz around the idea of giving cryptocurrency accounts to low-income people.

Why it matters: Cities have been experimenting with newfangled ways to address income inequality — like guaranteed income programs — and the latest wave of trials could involve paying benefits or dividends in bitcoin, stablecoin or other digital currencies.