Joe Biden announces COVID task force led by Obama’s surgeon general Vivek Murthy


Joe Biden hit the ground running Monday morning in beginning to unveil his administration’s team by naming those who will head his coronavirus task force – the president-elect and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will also receive their first briefing from the team.

Rick Bright, the whistleblower who was ousted as chief of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority earlier this year and has since become an outspoken Trump critic, will serve on the panel.

The advisory board is co-chaired by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who served toward the end of President Barack Obama’s administration; former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler; and Deputy Director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation Marcella Nunez-Smith.

Biden also tapped Zeke Emanuel, who served as Special Advisor for Health Policy at the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration, for the task force. He also helped shape the policy for Obamacare. 

In announcing members of the panel so soon after declaring victory over the weekend, Biden is highlighting his commitment to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic even before taking office.

Biden and Harris will receive a briefing from his transition coronavirus advisory board in Wilmington, Delaware on Monday. They will also participate in briefings with transition advisers.

President-elect Joe Biden began announcing those who will serve on his coroanvirus task force, which he revealed will be headed by Obama-era Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

The former vice president will also deliver remarks on his plans to beat COVID-19 and rebuild the economy.

On Monday, Biden plans to announce more individuals who will serve in his administration.

Also on Monday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence will hold a coronavirus task force meeting of his own as the current administration continues to focus on combatting the pandemic.

‘STOCK MARKET UP BIG, VACCINE COMING SOON,’ Trump touted in a tweet Monday morning. ‘REPORT 90% EFFECTIVE. SUCH GREAT NEWS!’

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced overnight Monday that its coronavirus vaccine is more than 90 per cent effective. The company plans to apply for FDA approval by the end of the week. 

Biden praised the breakthrough, but gave a cautious tone of what a vaccine means for the future of Americans during the pandemic.

‘Last night, my public health advisors were informed of this excellent news,’ Biden said in a Monday morning statement. ‘I congratulate the brilliant women and men who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope.’

‘At the same time, it is also important to understand that the end of the battle against COVID-19 is still months away,’ he cautioned.

The president-elect said a mask is still ‘a more potent weapon against the virus than the vaccine. Today’s news does not change this urgent reality.’

‘Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year,’ he said, underscoring the impotence of his recently formed taskforce.

‘Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact.’

‘America is still losing over 1,000 people a day from COVID-19, and that number is rising — and will continue to get worse unless we make progress on masking and other immediate action,’ he said. ‘That is the reality for now, and for the next few months. Today’s announcement promises the chance to change that next year, but the tasks before us now remain the same.’

Trump has still not conceded the election, claiming it was a ‘corrupt’ process because states continued counting and accepting ballots after Election Day on November 3.

He also is still posing a much more optimistic view of the pandemic, as he has repeatedly said a vaccine would be distributed before the end of 2020.

President Donald Trump, who has still not conceded to Biden, praised the breakthrough of a 90 per cent effective vaccine

President Donald Trump, who has still not conceded to Biden, praised the breakthrough of a 90 per cent effective vaccine

Joe Biden began announcing his own coronavirus task force on Monday

Joe Biden began announcing his own coronavirus task force on Monday

Biden’s transition team officials said this week the president-elect will also launch his agency review teams, the group of transition staffers that have access to key agencies in the current administration to ease the transfer of power.

The teams will collect and review information such as budgetary and staffing decisions, pending regulations and other work in progress from current staff at the departments to help Biden’s team prepare to transition.

‘People want the country to move forward,’ Kate Bedingfield, Biden deputy campaign manager, said in an interview on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ Sunday morning.

She continued that Americans want to see Biden and Harris ‘have the opportunity to do the work, to get the virus under control and to get our economy back together.’

The move to appoint a COVD czar first follows his promise to do so in his speech to the nation Saturday. It also means that his first appointee is a person of color – Murthy’s parents are Indians who lived in Britain and Canada before immigrating to the U.S. when he was three – and also someone with previous career in government.

And it shows he is unafraid to upset Republicans; Murthy was criticized for insisting that gun safety was a public health issue. 

 Biden will focus heavily on the coronavirus, hiring his West Wing staff and filling out his cabinet as the transition process begins amid worries about how Donald Trump will treat his successor during the transfer of power.

But as Biden sorts through is priority list as the nation’s 46th president, he faces unique pressure to satisfy the various coalitions who put him in the White House: Progressive, centrist, African American, unions, sunbelt, rustbelt and Georgia Democrats could all claim a place in his cabinet.

A longtime politician, Biden has a deep set of connections on both sides of the political aisle and will face a lot of outstretched hands wanting a reward now that he’s going to the Oval Office. 

‘Democratic Washington is basically the ‘Six degrees of Joe Biden.’ That dynamic is a double edged sword – it means he has limitless talent to draw from, and many many mouths to feed,’ a former Obama administration official told DailyMail.com. 

The list of ‘mouths’ is a long one: 

  • BLACK DEMOCRATS: Rep. James Clyburn, the African American congressman who helped deliver the presidential nomination for Biden, has made it clear he wants to see black faces in a  Biden administration and Cabinet;
  • PROGRESSIVES: Liberals, led by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, want progressives to have a voice. And Warren has made it known she’d like to be Treasury secretary;
  • GEORGIA DEMOCRATS: Want to see their state rewarded for going blue and want to see failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams get the credit she deserves after turning her loss into a voter mobilization movement; 
  • LABOR: Unions have been reliable supporters of Biden for years – a fact they will remind him of when it comes time to picking Cabinet secretaries and the top deputies in the federal agencies;
  • BLUE WALL: Midwest Democrats returned the ‘blue wall’ of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to Biden, helping hand him the White House. Their shining star, ironically not from one of those states, is former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Any Cabinet nominee will have to be confirmed by the Senate. Should Republicans keep control of the upper chamber, Biden will have to balance his picks with who GOP Leader Mitch McConnell will move to the Senate floor. 

Control of the upper chamber will be decided on January 5th, two weeks before Biden’s inauguration, when Georgia’s two Senate runoff races are voted upon. 

President-elect Joe Biden heads into church on Sunday; over the next few months he'll have to fill 4,000 federal jobs

President-elect Joe Biden heads into church on Sunday; over the next few months he’ll have to fill 4,000 federal jobs 

Biden will have to get 1,500 people confirmed and who he picks could be depended upon by control of the Senate; Republican Leader Mitch McConnell could make it tough to get progressive nominees through the confirmation process

Biden will have to get 1,500 people confirmed and who he picks could be depended upon by control of the Senate; Republican Leader Mitch McConnell could make it tough to get progressive nominees through the confirmation process

For the president-elect, who winds up with power in the upper chamber means the difference of deciding which Cabinet members he’s willing to pick a fight over and those moderate, middle of the road contenders who would sail through confirmation.

Biden has made clear he wants a diverse cabinet.

‘Men, women, gay, straight, center, across the board, Black, white, Asian,’ he said this Spring when talking about the issue. ‘It really matters that you look like the country, because everyone brings a slightly different perspective.’

First off, Biden will tackle the coronavirus pandemic that is infecting more than 100,000 Americans a day when he launches a coronavirus task force on Monday. 

‘Folks, our work begins with getting COVID under control. We cannot restore the economy, our vitality or relish life’s most pressures moment hugging our grandchildren, birthdays, graduations, all the matters that matter most to us until we get it on control,’ he told the nation in an address on Saturday night, after he had been declared the winner of the election.

‘On Monday I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help take the Biden-Harris plan and convert it into an actual blueprint that will start on January the 20th, 2021,’ he said.

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler, and former Obama White House aide Dr. Zeke Emanuel are some of those will be on Biden’s commission.

They are part of a group that has been advising Biden on the pandemic during his campaign. 

In the long list of jobs and appointments to announce, top West Wing positions are likely to be announced first given the uncertainty over which party will control the Senate.  

If Biden wins he has 4,000 political appointees to appoint and 1,250 of them need to be confirmed, Dave Marchick, the director of the center for presidential transition at the Partnership for Public Service, told Federal News Service.

And the easiest ones to fill are the one that don’t require Senate confirmation, which could be a lengthy, arduous process, particularly when the opposition party controls the chamber.  

‘The election results, especially continued GOP control of the Senate, could influence who the team puts forward for positions that require confirmation. This shouldn’t impact the staffing of the White House itself, so expect the big West Wing jobs to be some of the first announcements,’ the former Obama official predicted.

There’s already been speculation Biden will name his longtime aide Ron Klain his chief of staff. Klain served the same job for Biden when Biden was vice president.

Also mentioned for that job in Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, a prominent member of Biden’s inner circle and a co-chair of his presidential campaign. He would be the first black chief of staff if given the job, which is Cabinet level but doesn’t require Senate confirmation. He is expected to play a prominent role in Biden’s administration no matter the position.   

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Director for Science in the Public Interest Dr. David Kessler – the two men seen on the screens above – were part of the team that briefed Biden on the pandemic during the presidential campaign

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Director for Science in the Public Interest Dr. David Kessler – the two men seen on the screens above – were part of the team that briefed Biden on the pandemic during the presidential campaign

Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, a prominent member of Biden's inner circle and a co-chair of his presidential campaign, is expected to get a top-level job in the administration and could be named the first black White House chief of staff

Congressman Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, a prominent member of Biden’s inner circle and a co-chair of his presidential campaign, is expected to get a top-level job in the administration and could be named the first black White House chief of staff

Biden’s transition team had been quietly working to take over the government even before the presidential election race was called.

The team has a website ready and has started laying out a list of priorities between now and January 20th – when Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris will take the oath of office. Four are already on the website: COVID, economic relief, racial equality and climate change. 

On Sunday, the team launched its Twitter account: Transition46. 

Meanwhile, there have been concerns that President Trump, who is refusing to concede the race, will make the transition process difficult.

But one senior administration official argued otherwise to DailyMail.com.  

Acknowledging that ‘small irritations’ are common in a presidential shift, the official noted that transitions are typically run by career government staffers and not political appointees. 

‘Remember: a striking number of people who work in any White House are NOT political appointees. That has plusses and minuses (the biggest minus being that often those people are an active the impediment to implementation of policy with which they disagree.) But one of the plusses is that it does smooth a transition,’ the senior administration official said.

Former Senator Ted Kaufman, a longtime friend of Biden and his former Senate chief of staff who was appointed to his Senate seat after Biden became vice president, is heading up the transition process. 

Jeff Zients, a former Obama administration official, is also working on the transition.

Biden has said on day one one of his administration he will look to reverse many of Trump’s executive orders – including those on economic issues and the environment. He’s vowed to return the United States to the Paris Climate Accord.

He can do that with the swipe of his presidential pen but the orders will have to be drawn up and made ready over the next few months. 

There is already a small transition staff in place, including advisers on an array of issues – including healthcare, national security and foreign policy – and a spokesperson to handle communications.

Emily Murphy, the head of General Services Administration, will be one of the key players in the process as her agency takes the lead on the transfer of power.

She also has the difficult job of determining when Biden is officially the president-elect. Trump is contesting the results and launching lawsuits in several battleground states on Monday.

Murphy could wait until December 14, when the electoral college meets to formally cast their votes for president, to pull the trigger on the transition process.

Once she gives the green light, the Biden transition team will have access to the various federal agencies to start its review process – an area of importance when it comes to writing those executive orders and making hiring decisions.

Biden would come into the White House with an unmatched level of government experience: 36 years in the Senate and eight years as vice president. 

He’s built strong relationships with members of both parties, including Mitch McConnell.

And while that could come in handy when it comes to getting his Cabinet confirmed, it doesn’t mean McConnell will move quickly on any progressive contenders.  

‘The more extreme wing of his party is not going to take over policy in this country,’ Republican Senator Mitt Romney said Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’

That could be a blow to liberal wing of the party and its most prominent members, including Sanders, Warren, and Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez declined to address the matter on Sunday, when she spoke to CNN.

‘Well, I’m going to spending my next couple of months doing everything that I can to extend help …. to make sure we don’t have a Republican senate majority, that we win these races in Georgia, that we secure a democratic senate majority so that we don’t have to negotiate in that way,’ she said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ 

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

If Republicans keep the Senate, it could be hard for Biden to get progressive nominees confirmed, which would be a blow to liberals like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

There have been reports Warren is interested in the Treasury secretary and it’s unclear how this would play out in the Senate.

She is one of the biggest liberals in the Democratic Party but there is a Senate tradition of the courtesy of a quick confirmations for nominees within its ranks. Additionally, Massachusetts has a Republican governor who would appoint her replacement, meaning Democrats would lose a seat if she got the job although they would likely win it back in the special election.

Ironically, Warren ran for the Senate after then-President Barack Obama declined to name her as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – in part out of worries she would not be able to get confirmed in the Senate.  

Biden and McConnell worked together closely when Biden was vice president, cutting deals during the Obama years. McConnell was one of the few Republican lawmakers at Beau Biden’s funeral. 

He praised Biden as an honest partner he could negotiate with. 

‘We got results that would not have been possible without a negotiating partner like Joe Biden. Obviously, I don’t always agree with him, but I do trust him, implicitly. He doesn’t break his word, he doesn’t waste time telling me why I’m wrong,’ McConnell said in December 2016. ‘There’s a reason ‘Get Joe on the phone’ is shorthand for ‘Time to get serious’ in my office.’ 

WHO’S GOING TO RUN THE COUNTRY WITH JOE? MEET THE FRONTRUNNERS FOR THE CABINET AND TOP WHITE HOUSE JOBS

Joe Biden is set to start naming his cabinet picks within days. But the president-elect faces unique pressures to satisfy the various coalitions who put him in the White House: Progressive, centrist, African American, unions, sunbelt, rustbelt and Georgia Democrats could all claim a place in his cabinet – which is set to be the most diverse in history. And he may have to get them confirmed by a Republican Senate. 

Here are the front runners – and some of the wildcards – for the most powerful jobs in America:

THE DEMOCRATIC STARS PARTY WANTS BIDEN TO PUT IN BIG JOBS

STACEY ABRAMS FOR SCOTUS? 

 Abrams turned her failed Georgia gubernatorial campaign into a movement to mobilize disenfranchised voters and to registers more African Americans. Her efforts paid off in Georgia, where Joe Biden has taken the lead over President Donald Trump. Should Georgia go blue, Biden would be the first Democrat to carry it since 1992. And credit for that is going to Abrams, who is being congratulated by everyone from members of Congress to celebrities. Abrams was mentioned as a possible running mate but Biden ultimately went with Kamala Harris amid questions about Abrams’ lack of national experience. Biden has said he will have African American women in his Cabinet – and has said he would appoint one to the Supreme Court. How will he reward Abrams and where would be a place for her remains a question mark. 

COULD BERNIE BE IN THE CABINET?  

The liberal senator from Vermont didn’t give Joe Biden the kind of problems in the 2020 Democratic primary that he gave Hillary Clinton in the 2016 contest. When the race was all but over, Sanders stepped aside, endorsed Biden and called on liberals to help defeat Donald Trump. He helped keep the left in Biden’s corner when progressives were wary of Biden’s moderate record. While he has been mentioned as a possibility for Labor Secretary, what role he plays in the Biden administration – or if he stays in the Senate – remains to be seen.

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE ALEXANDRIA?

  The New York congresswoman is a liberal rock star and national figure on the Democratic stage. She helped craft Biden’s  climate policy, bridging his more moderate views with the demands of liberals. Biden has talked about creating a Cabinet- or senior adviser–level job focused entirely on climate change, Ocasio-Cortez could be a prominent contender for such a job.

HELL YES, HE’LL GIVE BETO SOMETHING 

O’Rourke came a national star in his failed 2018 Senate bid, when he came within two points of knocking off conservative Senator Ted Cruz in Texas. He tried to translate that into a Democratic presidential campaign but quickly crashed and burned. He also became a prominent advocate for stricter gun laws after a shooting at a WalMart in his home town of El Paso – a position Trump tried to use against Biden in the general election. ‘Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47, and we’re not going to allow it to be used against your fellow Americans anymore,’ he said during the September 2019 Democratic primary debate. O’Rourke supported Biden and campaigned for him heavily in Texas in an attempt to turn Texas blue. Biden lost the state by six points but it is trending blue. Will Beto try to run for governor of the state or join a Biden administration? 

MAYOR PETE, SECRETARY PETE, AMBASSADOR PETE?

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, was one of the first top contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination to endorse Joe Biden when he dropped out of the primary. He is expected to have a prominent role in the Biden administration. He was the first openly gay person to launch a major presidential campaign. He and his husband Chasten became national stars when Buttigieg ran for president. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford who is fluent in several languages, the Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, also has been mentioned as a possible ambassador to the United Nations. 

COULD ELIZABETH WARREN RUN THE FINANCES?

Elizabeth Warren’s name has been floated as Treasury Secretary. The Massachusetts senator is one of the biggest liberals in the Democratic Party, which could hurt her in a GOP-led chamber, but there is a Senate tradition of the courtesy of a quick confirmations for nominees within its ranks. She is also avowedly not a socialist but a capitalist – saying that the current system is not capitalism at all. Ironically Warren ran for the Senate after then-President Barack Obama declined to name her as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – in part out of worries she would not be able to get confirmed in the Senate. But the Massachusetts governor is a Republican – so he would have to agree to replace her with a Democrat for a move to be possible.

THE BIDEN INNER CIRCLE   

COMEBACK FOR JOHN KERRY

A former Democratic presidential candidate, a former secretary of state, and a former senator from Massachusetts – Kerry is a party elder and longtime friend of Biden. He also advised him on climate change, a strong cause for Kerry. He’s also been mentioned for a climate change czar should Biden create such a position. 

RISING STAR CEDRIC RICHMOND COULD BE FIRST BLACK CHIEF OF STAFF  

The Democratic congressman from Louisiana helped Biden with African American voters and is a prominent adviser to the president-elect. He’s been mentioned for a top role in the administration, including becoming the first black chief of staff. But longtime Biden adviser Ron Klain is also in contention for that role. If Richmond doesn’t get chief of staff he’s expected to have some kind of top-level job in the Biden White House. 

DELAWARE SENATOR TO BE TOP DIPLOMAT?  

Chris Coons of Delaware is a close personal friend of Joe Biden’s, he holds Biden seat in the Senate. He did volunteer relief work in Africa before attending Yale Law School. He would likely be easily confirmed by the Senate. ‘If asked, I’d be honored to serve,’ Coons told ABC’s ‘This Week’ on Sunday. ‘Joe is someone who’s long been a leader in foreign policy. I’ve served on the Foreign Relations Committee a decade, and there’s a lot of hard work to do to re-engage with the world and restore our place of leadership on the world stage.’

LA’S MAYOR TO RUN TRANSPORT?   

 Eric Garcetti, the Los Angeles Mayor is a longtime Biden loyalist, he is term-limited out of job in March 2022. In 2016, he declined to endorse Hillary Clinton until he had reassurance that Biden wasn’t running. 

INSIDER FRIEND AS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR? 

Tony Blinken: A former deputy secretary of state and deputy national security advisor, Blinken is close to Biden and seen as a contender for the State Department or as National Security Advisor. He is a veteran of the Obama administration’s efforts to negotiate over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its ISIS fight. He has been through a Senate confirmation fight before when he became deputy secretary of state. In 2017, Blinken co-founded WestExec Advisors, a political strategy advising firm, with Michèle Flournoy, who has been mentioned as a top contender for Pentagon chief.  

AND WHO ELSE MIGHT GET WHAT KEY ROLE

STATE

Susan Rice: Also mentioned as a potential running mate for Joe Biden, Rice served as U.N. ambassador and national security adviser to President Obama. Obama considered appointing her to the top job at Foggy Bottom after Hillary Clinton left the State Department. The same issue that prevented her appointment then could haunt her now: Republican anger at her following a controversy related to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi.

DEFENSE

Michele Flournoy: Flournoy, the favorite for the job, was Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy under President Clinton and the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy under President Obama. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford, in 2007, Flournoy co-founded the Center for a New American Security, a for-profit Washington, D.C.-based think tank that specializes in U.S. national security issues. Her name was also mentioned for the same job if Hillary Clinton had won. If confirmed, she would be the first female defense secretary. 

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois: Mentioned as a possible running mate for Joe Biden, Duckworth lost both of her legs and some mobility in her right arm in 2004, when she was an Army helicopter pilot in Iraq and her chopper was hit by a rocket. She was awarded the Purple Heart. She served two terms in the House before she was elected to the Senate, where she first senator to give birth while in office and Senate rules were changed to allow her to bring her baby daughter to the Senate floor.  

TREASURY

Lael Brainard: A governor for the federal reserve, she is non controversial and could be easily confirmed in a Republican-led Senate. She served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs in the Obama administration and has been member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System since 2014. She would be the first woman to hold the job if appointed and confirmed. 

Mellody Hobson: She is the president and co-CEO of Ariel Investments and is the former chairwoman of DreamWorks Animation. In 2017, she became the first African-American woman to head The Economic Club of Chicago. A graduate of Princeton, she is married to Star Wars creator George Lucas. 

Raphael Bostic: Bostic, the president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, would be the first black person and the first openly gay person to lead the department.   

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama: Jones lost to Republican Tommy Tuberville on election night, meaning he’ll need a job come January. The former U.S. attorney in Alabama has a strong civil rights record with the prosecutions of two members of the Ku Klux Klan involved in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham nearly 40 years later. He’s also a personal friend of Joe Biden’s and worked on Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1988. He would not make Biden’s Cabinet more diverse but he would be easily confirmed by the Senate. 

Andrew Cuomo: The governor of New York became a national figure of trust when he led his state through the COVID pandemic.  He serve as Housing and Urban Development secretary during Bill Clinton’s administration.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez:  He served as assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Obama administration before Obama named him as Labor secretary. Not a single Republican senator voted for his confirmation for the Labor Department.

Sally Yates: The former deputy attorney general in the Obama administration became a liberal cause celeb when President Donald Trump fired her in the early days of his presidency for refusing to defend his executive order barring entry to people several Muslim countries. Senate Republicans could use that to object to her confirmation.

HOMELAND SECURITY

Alejandro Mayorkas: He was the Department of Homeland Security’s deputy secretary during the Obama administration and would be its first Latino secretary if confirmed. He also headed up the implementation of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Not a single Republican senator voted to confirm him deputy DHS secretary in 2013 because of his role in that program. 

Xavier Becerra: The attorney general of California has been named as a contender for this job, to head the Justice Department and as a person Gov. Gavin Newsom could appoint to fill Kamala Harris’ Senate seat. 

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Michelle Lujan Grisham:  The New Mexico governor ran the state’s health agency before serving in the House of Representatives. She is also a co-chair of the Biden’s transition team. And she commissioned a study on implementing a public option at the state level, which matches Biden push for one on a federal level.

Vivek Murthy: The former Surgeon General in Obama’s administration, he has been part of the team advising Biden on COVID during the campaign. Murthy, who founded the nonprofit Doctors for America in 2008, was the first surgeon general of Indian descent. A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Medical School, Republicans could object to his past comments on gun violence, which he called a threat to public health.

EDUCATION

Lily Eskelsen Garcia: An elementary school teacher and the immediate past president of the NEA, she is favored for the job given Biden’s pledge to put a public school teacher in the post. She is a former Utah ‘teacher of the year’ and got her start in schools as a lunch lady in the cafeteria.

Randi Weingarten: The head of the American Federation of Teachers, she was one of the many union leaders who supported Biden. She got her start in schools teaching history in a New York public high school. Her mother was a teacher too.  

LABOR

Julie Su: Labor is the Cabinet position expected to go to a liberal and Su, the Secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, tops the list of contenders. She is a nationally recognized expert on workers’ rights and civil rights. A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School. she speaks Mandarin and Spanish.

COMMERCE

Meg Whitman: The job is seen as a place for Biden to appoint a Republican and Whitman, the CEO of Quibi, which is shutting down, and former CEO of eBay, could be the answer.  She ran for governor of California in 2010, winning the GOP primary but losing the general to Democrat Jerry Brown. 

Terry McAuliffe: The former governor of Virginia, McAuliffe is a former banker, investor, and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who is close to the Clintons. 

ENERGY

Ernest Moniz: Moniz is a nuclear physicist who served as President Obama’s Energy secretary. He was also an informal adviser to the Biden campaign on energy issues. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate for energy secretary in 2013. 

AGRICULTURE

Heidi Heitkamp: The North Dakota Democrat lost her Senate seat in 2018 is a strong moderate. She has broken with Democrats on controversial issues, including supporting the Keystone XL oil pipeline. 

INTERIOR

Tom Udall: The Democratic senator from New Mexico is not seeking re-election but wants to remain in public life. The Interior Department, which manages more than half a billion acres of federal land, is an ideal place for him. His father Stewart led Interior for eight years under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

Deb Haaland: The Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico would be the first Native American to serve in a presidential cabinet if appointed to the job. Her backers are pushing her hard for the position. She was one of the first of two Native American women elected to Congress. Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people.

HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT 

Keisha Lance Bottoms: The mayor of Atlanta came to national attention during the Black Lives Matters protests when she led her city through the riots. A prominent Biden supporter, she helped deliver the vote for him in Atlanta.

Alvin Brown: Brown worked at the agency under President Bill Clinton and is the former mayor of Jacksonville, Fla. 

Sources: Politico, CNN, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times



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