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Sen. Bernie Sanders. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Progressives like Bernie Sanders say they "have not" seen Joe Biden respect their election-winning power so far and deserve more Cabinet and top-level picks in his burgeoning administration.

Why it matters: Many from the Democratic left actively campaigned for — or bit their tongues — while Biden worked to finish off Donald Trump in the general election. Now, they expect their payoff but have been confused and disappointed so far.

"The progressive movement deserves a number of seats — important seats — in the Biden administration. Have I seen that at this point? I have not," Sanders told me.

  • "I've told the Biden people: The progressive movement is 35-40% of the Democratic coalition. Without a lot of other enormously hard work on the part of grassroots activists and progressives, Joe would not have won the election," Sanders added.

Driving the news: There’s a lot of surprise among outside groups, strategists, Hill members and staffers at Tom Vilsack's return as Agriculture secretary.

  • Biden vowed to make his Cabinet "look like America" but picked a white guy who's already held the job for eight years over two qualified women, including one who's Black, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio).
  • While Biden picked Fudge for HUD secretary, Rep. Barbara Lee told Axios she “absolutely” supported her for Agriculture.
  • “You’d have to ask the Biden folks their calculations and formula,” Lee (D-Calif.) told me.

The intrigue: Throughout the process, transition officials have allowed members of Congress to tag their people, policy and project requests as High, Medium, or Low priority.

  • A Democratic source familiar with the ongoing discussions said Congressional Black Caucus members were told, individually, their requests would be at least “Medium” priority.
  • That wasn't enough for Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and other CBC leaders pushing for Fudge to seal the deal.
  • "For every one of these Cabinet positions, he can pick 10 competent African Americans," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said of Biden.

While a Black man, Lloyd Austin, was nominated to serve as secretary of Defense, it didn't satisfy progressives. They noted the recent Army retiree needs a waiver to head the Pentagon — and they're concerned it won't be approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

  • Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted partial praise but hinted at challenging him during his eventual hearing.
  • "I look forward to his testifying," Khanna wrote.

Go deeper

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
11 mins ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Red Sox strike out on deal to go public

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The parent company of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. has ended talks to sell a minority ownership stake to RedBall Acquisition, a SPAC formed by longtime baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, Axios has learned from multiple sources. An alternative investment, structured more like private equity, remains possible.

Why it matters: Red Sox fans won't be able to buy stock in the team any time soon.