Who Joe Biden is picking to fill his White House and Cabinet

Updated Nov. 24 at 10:46 a.m.
The Latest: On Tuesday, Nov. 24, Biden announced several key foreign policy and national security picks at an event in Wilmington, Del. The day before it was reported that Biden will nominate former Federal Reserve chair Janet L. Yellen for treasury secretary.

One of President-elect Joe Biden’s very first tasks will be filling the top positions in his White House and Cabinet. In contrast to President Trump’s notably White and male Cabinet, Biden has promised to be “a president for all Americans” and build a Cabinet that reflects its diversity.

In making his selections Biden is looking to appease factions of the Democratic Party from moderates to progressives and longtime allies to newer faces. Cabinet positions — with the exception of the vice president and White House chief of staff — will also require approval from a Republican Senate, unless Democrats can win two Senate race runoffs in early January.

Once confirmed, they will be instrumental in carrying out his goals and setting the tenor his presidency. We’re tracking the people who Biden has already named and the top contenders for unfilled roles.

Secretary of Agriculture

Currently: Sonny Perdue

The Trump administration has authorized tens of billions of dollars in direct payments to American ranchers and commodity row crop farmers. Federal payments to farmers hit a record $46 billion in 2020, with trade mitigation payments and pandemic relief flowing swiftly to President Trump’s rural base in the South and Midwest. Trump’s other signature USDA initiatives have been regulatory policies aimed at reducing the number of Americans eligible for food assistance. It is likely Biden would reverse erosions of SNAP and other food assistance programs, as well as restoring more rigorous school nutrition standards that were the centerpiece of Michelle Obama's Let's Move! effort. Biden has said he would support beginning farmers, pursue “smarter pro-worker and pro-family-farmer…policies,” and reward sustainable farming practices that reduce atmospheric carbon.

Potential candidates

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D)

Congresswoman from Illinois

Bustos has privately signaled interest in the Agriculture position. A member of the House Agriculture Committee, Bustos led the House Democrats’ campaign arm in the 2020 cycle and oversaw the loss of a slew of Democratic seats that shrank their majority in the chamber. Bustos narrowly won reelection in her conservative Illinois district. A Bustos spokeswoman did not rule out an interest in a Cabinet post.

Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D)

Congresswoman from Ohio

Fudge has served as the congresswoman for Ohio's 11th District since 2008, chairs the House Agriculture Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations Subcommittee, and ranks fourth on the House Agriculture Committee. She has endorsed Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) to be chair of the House Agriculture Committee and has repeatedly expressed interest in being agriculture secretary.

Heidi Heitkamp

Former senator from North Dakota

A former senator from North Dakota, Heitkamp was considered a top pick for the role of Secretary of Agriculture for Donald Trump in 2016, and she is once again considered so for Biden. Having served on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, she is popular with conventional farm groups and has spoken about fossil fuels playing a role in the clean energy revolution. Heitkamp started the One Country Project, a nonprofit to educate Democrats on how to appeal to voters in rural districts. She is backed by Biden’s agricultural adviser, former secretary Tom Vilsack.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D)

Congresswoman from Maine

Progressives are urging Biden to choose Pingree, the organic farmer and House Agriculture Committee member from Maine who has introduced bills to decrease food waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farming and support small meat processors. In a role typically filled by someone from conventional agriculture in the Midwest’s Farm Belt, she would represent the concerns of small farmers.

Reported by Laura Reiley and Seung Min Kim.

White House chief of staff

Currently: Mark Meadows

The chief of staff is often considered the president's gatekeeper, shaping his schedule and presidential access. They serve as a close adviser and also oversee White House staffing. This position does not require Senate confirmation.

[Biden’s choice of Ron Klain to run White House signals rejection of Trump-era chaos]

Named

Ronald A. Klain

Biden's vice presidential chief of staff from 2009 to 2011

Klain was appointed by then-President Barack Obama to serve as the White House's "Ebola czar" to coordinate the administration's response to that epidemic and most recently was a senior adviser to the Biden campaign. He was also chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore.

Reported by Kate Rabinowitz.

Central Intelligence Agency director

Currently: Gina Haspel

The Central Intelligence Agency clandestinely gathers information around the world, primarily through a network of human sources. It has also played a key role in U.S. counterterrorism operations. Trump has often assailed the agency as a den of “deep state” conspirators who tried to undermine his election in 2016 and his presidency. Biden is expected to appoint a director who emphasizes the agency’s core mission and invigorates efforts to collect intelligence on nation-states, primarily Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Potential candidates

Susan M. Gordon

Former national intelligence official

Gordon was the principal deputy director for national intelligence — the No. 2 position — until August 2019. Prior to that, she was deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and was a CIA officer for more than 25 years.

Mike Morell

Former acting director of CIA

A former career CIA officer, Morell served as the deputy director and acting director in the Obama administration. He was also the director for intelligence, in charge of the agency’s analysis efforts and effectively the top analyst at the CIA.

Reported by Shane Harris.

Secretary of Commerce

Currently: Wilbur Ross

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross led the department to take an active role in President Trump’s trade wars. He championed an expansive interpretation of U.S. trade law, enabling Trump to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in response to alleged national security threats. The so-called Section 232 tariffs were deeply controversial and alienated major U.S. trading partners, including Canada. Commerce also was a key player in the president’s confrontation with China. The department put prominent Chinese corporations such as Huawei on an export blacklist, all but severing them from critical American-made components, an important step toward decoupling the world’s two largest economies. The Biden administration is unlikely to immediately roll back the Trump tariffs. But the department may put a greater emphasis on export promotion and, through its management of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, take a more proactive stance on climate change. Commerce, customarily considered a business community outpost, is unlikely to be among the first department jobs filled and the ultimate pick may depend on the demographic and political makeup of the rest of the Cabinet.

Potential candidates

Mellody Hobson

Co-CEO of Ariel Investments

A prominent African American business executive, Hobson could help Biden achieve his goal of leading a government that looks “like America.” But her ties to the financial services industry — she sits on the board of JPMorgan Chase — might irk progressives.

Terry McAuliffe

Former governor of Virginia and ex-chair of the Democratic National Committee

McAuliffe has long been seen as a potential commerce secretary, either in a potential Hillary Clinton administration in 2016 or under Biden. But he now is viewed as more likely to focus on running next year for a second, non-consecutive term as governor of the commonwealth.

Meg Whitman

Former CEO of Quibi

Whitman is a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for governor of California in 2010. She endorsed Biden in August and, if chosen, would give his Cabinet a bipartisan cast. She built eBay into a financial success and later oversaw Hewlett-Packard’s split into two standalone companies. But her involvement in this year’s stunning collapse of Quibi, a mobile streaming service that lasted six months, may have dulled her glossy résumé.

Reported by David J. Lynch.

Secretary of Defense

Currently: Christopher C. Miller (acting)

A Biden presidency is expected to strike a relatively steady course at the Pentagon, seeking to restore stability in military decision-making while reemphasizing alliances and pressing ahead with efforts to respond to China’s rise. Analysts expect Biden to continue troop cuts in Afghanistan, where violence is surging as diplomats seek to advance peace talks. But while the Trump administration has sent mixed messages about whether it will withdraw all troops in coming months in line with a U.S.-Taliban deal, Biden’s campaign has suggested it would opt to leave a small force to counter al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

[Biden administration will seek to restore stability at Pentagon, analysts say]

Promising a break with often chaotic foreign policy, the new administration is expected to strike a less adversarial stance against Iran, which Trump has depicted as a chief American adversary.

Potential candidates

Michèle Flournoy

A former department official

Flournoy worked in the Defense Department under both Presidents Clinton and Obama, heading the department's policy operation during the Obama years. She was also considered for a senior role by Trump’s first defense secretary, Jim Mattis. If nominated, she's expected to easily be confirmed and would become the first woman to serve as Secretary of Defense.

Jeh Johnson

Former secretary of homeland security

A former homeland security secretary in the Obama administration, Johnson also served as the top lawyer in the Pentagon, and earlier in his legal career he worked as a federal prosecutor in New York City. Johnson’s name has also been mentioned as a possible pick for attorney general. If nominated and confirmed, he would be the first African American to head the Defense Department.

William McRaven

Retired Navy admiral

McRaven spent over three decades in the Navy. He served as head of Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014 and oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. McRaven has been an outspoken critic of President Trump.

Reported by Missy Ryan and Kate Rabinowitz.

Secretary of Education

Currently: Betsy Devos

Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Education Department has rolled back some civil rights protections as well as Obama-era efforts to hold for-profit colleges accountable for poor outcomes. She has promoted alternatives to public schools and tried to slash federal funding for education. Biden is expected to reverse all of that, with more money for K-12 and higher education, new and revived civil rights protections and a focus on racial equity.

[With DeVos out, Biden plans series of reversals on education]

Biden has said he will name a public school educator as secretary of Education, a stab at DeVos, who had no experience with public schools. Many expect that to be someone from the K-12 world. Among those talked about for the job include a handful of big-city school superintendents, such as Sonja Santelises from Baltimore, or a state superintendent such as Tony Thurmond of California or Angelica Infante-Green of Rhode Island.

Potential candidates

Lily García

Former head of the National Education Association

García recently stepped down as president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union. Before that, she was an elementary school teacher. She is friendly with incoming first lady Jill Biden, who is a community college teacher and member of the NEA.

Rep. Jahana Hayes (D)

Congresswoman from Connecticut

Hayes, elected in 2018, is the first Black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress. She sits on the Committee on Education and Labor and has sponsored some higher education measures. Before that, she was the 2016 National Teacher of the Year.

Rep. Donna Shalala (D)

Outgoing congresswoman from Florida

Shalala just lost her campaign for reelection to Congress after a single term. Before that, she was president of the University of Miami and, earlier in her career, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and president Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also served for eight years as secretary of health and human services in the Clinton administration. She has deep experience in higher education, though choosing her might disappoint some who expect Biden to pick a secretary from the K-12 world.

Randi Weingarten

Head of the American Federation of Teachers

Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teacher union. She previously served as president of the union representing teachers in New York City, and was a high school teacher in Brooklyn. Nominating a labor leader could be seen as an affront to those who favor teacher evaluations and other test-based accountability measures.

Reported by Laura Meckler.

Secretary of Energy

Currently: Dan Brouillette

The Energy Department has been one of Trump's numerous fronts in rolling back environmental regulations. Under Biden, the department would likely move to tighten energy efficiency standards across industries and products and invest heavily in renewable energy. During the campaign, Biden introduced a $2 trillion plan to fight climate change that included pledges to eliminate carbon emissions from the electric sector by 2035, impose stricter gas mileage standards and fund investments to weatherize millions of homes and commercial buildings.

[The Energy 202: Here are some of the contenders to become Biden's top environmental officials]

Potential candidates

Arun Majumdar

Stanford University professor

A professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford, Majumdar served as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. The office, which is an incubator for nascent energy technologies, has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress, which may bode well for his chances of being confirmed by the Senate.

Ernest Moniz

Former secretary of energy

Known for his eye-catching hair, Obama's former energy secretary played an important role hammering out the details of the nuclear weapons deal with Iran. Though Trump abandoned the deal, Biden wants to rejoin it. A nuclear physicist and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, he informally advised the Biden team during the campaign.

Dan Reicher

Stanford University scholar

Now at Stanford, Reicher has had several roles at the Energy Department, including chief of staff, assistant secretary at the energy efficiency and renewable energy office, and a member of Obama's Energy Department transition team. He also once led climate and alternative energy initiatives at Google and helped raise money for Biden during the campaign.

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall

Former deputy secretary of energy

This former deputy energy secretary under Obama was once a Rhodes Scholar and is now a professor at Georgia Tech. Under Bill Clinton, she also served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia.

Reported by Dino Grandoni, Juliet Eilperin, Kate Rabinowitz and Steven Mufson.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator

Currently: Andrew Wheeler

Biden is planning for a complete reversal of recent federal environmental policy after the Trump administration undertook a dramatic rollback in environmental protections. Over 100 environmental safeguards were removed across the past four years. Biden plans to impose stricter environmental standards on industry, a job that would be overseen by his next EPA administrator.

Potential candidates

Daniel Esty

Yale University professor

Though now an academic with appointments at Yale's forestry, law and business schools, Esty once served as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. There he helped launch a first-in-the-nation “green bank” for promoting clean energy. Biden has proposed creating a similar institution nationwide.

Heather McTeer Toney

National Field Director for Moms Clean Air Force

Besides running the EPA's Southeast office under Obama, she was also the first female and African-American mayor of Greenville, Miss. Now a senior director at the Moms Clean Air Force, she has spoken out against the Trump administration's rejection of stricter air quality standards during the pandemic in which the coronavirus attacks the lungs.

Mary Nichols

Chair of the California Air Resources Board

Over the past four years, the California Air Resources Board head has been central to the state's fight with the Trump administration over environmental rollbacks. When the EPA undid tougher air pollution rules for new cars implemented under President Barack Obama, Nichols helped forge an agreement with four major automakers to maintain the more-stringent standards in California. During her 13-year tenure running the California agency, she has helped put in place the state's cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions.

Collin O'Mara

CEO of the National Wildlife Federation

Unlike the leaders of other some environmental groups, O'Mara, head of the National Wildlife Federation, has worked with both Democrats and Republicans to advance habitat conservation efforts in Congress. He also, crucially, has ties to Biden's home state; O'Mara is said to have been the nation's youngest state Cabinet official in 2009 when he ran the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. That happens to be same Cabinet in which Biden's late son Beau served as attorney general.

Richard Revesz

New York University law professor

Revesz is considered one of the foremost legal minds in environmental law. Originally from Argentina, he has spent most of his career in academia. But he has managing experience, having served as dean of the NYU law school from 2002 to 2013.

Mustafa Santiago Ali

Vice President at the National Wildlife Federation

Also an executive at the National Wildlife Federation, Ali made headlines shortly after Trump took office for resigning from his post as an EPA assistant associate administrator. He left with more than two decades of experience at the EPA, having worked in both Democratic and Republican administrations and helped create the agency's environmental justice office in the early 1990s. Environmentalists say picking him makes sense for an administration aiming to tackle the disproportionate impact poor and minority communities face from air and water pollution.

Reported by Dino Grandoni, Juliet Eilperin, Kate Rabinowitz and Steven Mufson.

Secretary of Health and Human Services

Currently: Alex Azar

The Department of Health and Human Services, one of the government’s largest, has been the Trump administration’s main vehicle to weaken the Affordable Care Act and shift health policy in a more conservative direction in other ways. The department has sought to let states require some people on Medicaid to work or prepare for jobs, a move blocked by the courts. It has restricted federal funding of research that uses human fetal tissue. Though a Republican Congress failed to repeal the ACA, HHS took many steps though executive action. It slashed funding to help boost enrollment in the insurance marketplaces created under the law, ended one type of subsidy for insurers, and widened the availability of inexpensive health plans that can bypass the law’s rules for insurance benefits and consumer protections. In contrast, the ACA is the basis of plans President-elect Biden has advocated for helping more Americans get affordable health coverage. He says that federal insurance subsidies should expand to help more middle-class families. He wants ACA health plans to be given to poor residents of a dozen states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs under the law. Biden also has proposed lowering from 65 years old to 60 the age for people to join Medicare, the vast federal insurance programs for older Americans. All these changes would require Congress to adopt them.

Potential candidates

Mandy Cohen

Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Cohen is an alumna of the Obama administration, having been hired in 2013 as a senior adviser in HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and becoming the agency’s chief of staff. In 2017, she became North Carolina’s top health official. Since then, she has worked on plans to upgrade Medicaid — including by integrating physical and mental health care — and health conditions for young children. Cohen is trained as an internal medical physician and teaches in the department of health policy and management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Public Health.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

New Mexico governor

Lujan Grisham has been the governor of New Mexico since 2019. She also served in the U.S. House from the state's First District and as New Mexico secretary of health from 2004 to 2007. On Nov. 13, she ordered a statewide two-week shutdown to help bring coronavirus cases under control. She has won praise from many Democratic leaders for her health-care policy background and her handling of the state's coronavirus outbreak, and was the only Latina on Biden's shortlist of potential running mates over the summer.

Vivek Murthy

Former U.S. surgeon general

Murthy is co-chair of President-elect Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board and was one of the public health experts who briefed Biden frequently about the pandemic during the campaign. Murthy became the 19th U.S. surgeon general at the end of 2014, slightly more than a year after his nomination by President Barack Obama. His nomination had been held up in the Senate for just over a year, largely because of his view that gun violence poses a public health threat. During his tenure, he issued a landmark report on drug and alcohol addiction, calling it “a moral test for America,” and placing it among reports his predecessors had produced to draw attention to other major public health threats, such as tobacco use, AIDS, the need for physical activity. Since leaving the government, he has written and spoken out about loneliness. He was a vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service’s commissioned corps and is trained in internal medicine.

Reported by Amy Goldstein and Yasmeen Abutaleb.

Secretary of Homeland Security

Currently: Chad Wolf (acting)

Under President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security’s focus shifted notably from counterterrorism to immigration and border enforcement. Trump turned the nation’s third-largest federal entity into a powerful tool of domestic policy and electoral politics, using DHS to carry out a wide-ranging immigration crackdown and quell street protests in American cities. Created after the Sept. 11 attacks to reassure the American public and project stability, DHS went through unprecedented leadership turmoil under Trump, with five secretaries in four years. Biden is expected to try to stabilize the department by returning its focus to a broad range of threats, including counterterrorism, cyber threats and the pandemic response.

[Biden picks Alejandro Mayorkas, a son of Jewish Cuban refugees, to lead the Department of Homeland Security]

Named

Alejandro Mayorkas

Former Obama immigration and homeland security official

Currently an attorney at the D.C. law firm WilmerHale, Mayorkas served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during President Obama’s first term, and was promoted to DHS deputy secretary under Jeh Johnson for Obama’s second term. Born in Cuba and raised mostly in Los Angeles, Mayorkas’s experience navigating the politics of immigration enforcement and border security could be an asset to Biden if the issue remains a topic of intense partisan focus. Mayorkas’s nomination could run into trouble over a 2015 report by the DHS inspector general faulting him for inappropriately helping several companies obtain employment visas. Mayorkas refuted those findings. He would be the first Latino to run that department.

Reported by Nick Miroff.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Currently: Ben Carson

Under the Trump administration, the agency gutted Obama-era fair lending and fair housing laws. The new secretary is expected to restore these laws and be a key player in carrying out Biden's campaign promises to expand affordable housing, increase the availability of Section 8 vouchers and tackle racial bias in housing.

Potential candidates

Rep. Karen Bass (D)

Congresswoman from California

Bass is a fifth-term California congresswoman representing south Los Angeles. She currently heads the Congressional Black Caucus and serves on the House Committee of Foreign Affairs.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Atlanta mayor

Bottoms was an early supporter of Biden's 2020 presidential run and served as a surrogate for him on the trail. She was elected mayor of Atlanta in 2017 after serving on city council for eight years. Before joining Atlanta politics, she was a prosecutor and magistrate judge.

Alvin Brown

Former Jacksonville mayor

Brown served in various roles during the Clinton administration across the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, including as adviser to then-secretary Andrew Cuomo. Most recently Brown was a staffer on the Biden campaign.

Maurice Jones

CEO of Local Initiatives Support Corporation

Jones served as the deputy undersecretary of HUD from 2012 to 2014 and as Virginia's commerce secretary under Gov. Terry McAuliffe. He currently runs Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which offers community development loans, grants and investments.

Diane Yentel

CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition

Yentel served as director of the public housing management and occupancy division at HUD during the Obama administration. She currently leads the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an affordable housing advocacy group, and has been an outspoken critic of Trump's HUD.

Reported by Kate Rabinowitz.

Secretary of Interior

Currently: David Bernhardt

Under Trump, the Interior Department opened public lands and waters, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, for fossil fuel extraction and logging. Biden pledges to reverse those efforts, aiming to restrict fossil fuel exploration on public lands and waters and expand conservation efforts.Westerners have occupied the post for more than 120 years, with the single exception of Rogers Morton, who served under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

[Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black female senator, eyes interior secretary post]

Potential candidates

Michael L. Connor

Former Interior deputy secretary

Connor was deputy secretary at Interior from 2014 to 2017 and also worked in the department during the Clinton years. He served as counsel to the Senate committee on energy and natural resources during the Bush administration. Connor is currently a partner at the law firm WilmerHale.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D)

Congressman from Arizona

Grijalva has been in Congress for more than 15 years and currently chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. He has been critical of how both the Bush and Trump administrations managed public land and opened access to the private sector.

Rep. Deb Haaland (D)

Congresswoman from New Mexico

Of the New Mexicans being considered for the job, the congresswomen from the state's 1st Congressional District has the least experience in Congress, being first elected in 2018. But picking her would be historic. Haaland, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, would be the first Native American to run the department charged with overseeing federal and tribal lands.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D)

Senator from New Mexico

A member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, New Mexico's other senator is also a proponent of clean energy and public land protections. One complicating factor for any of the state's Cabinet hopefuls: If New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) becomes health and human services secretary, that might give Biden's team pause about elevating another New Mexican to the Cabinet.

Carol Moseley Braun

Former senator from Illinois

An early supporter of Biden’s bid for the presidency, Moseley Braun told The Post she would like to serve as his interior secretary. She became the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate when she was elected to a single term in 1992, then was U.S. ambassador to New Zealand at the end of Bill Clinton’s second term. She would be an unconventional pick, having relatively little experience in environmental policy or public lands and not hailing from a Western state.

Sen. Tom Udall (D)

Senator from New Mexico

The senator from New Mexico is retiring from Congress this year, but has said he would consider joining the Biden administration. In recent years, Udall has been a loud advocate for conserving 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by the end of the decade and funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The choice would also be a nostalgic one; his father, Stewart Udall, was secretary of the department from 1961 to 1969 under two Democratic presidents.

Reported by Dino Grandoni, Juliet Eilperin, Kate Rabinowitz and Steven Mufson.

Attorney General, Department of Justice

Currently: William Barr

The Justice Department in the Trump administration most notably drew criticism for its leaders apparently bending to political pressure from Trump and getting involved in criminal cases involving the president's friends. Biden's Justice Department would probably seek to change that, restoring the department's historic independence on criminal matters. Biden's Justice Department also is likely to focus more on forcing reforms at police departments through court and other actions. The Justice Department in the Trump administration had largely abandoned those efforts, positioning itself as defending the police from unfair criticism.

[Biden searches for attorney general to restore Justice Dept.’s independence, refocus on civil rights ]

Potential candidates

Xavier Becerra

California’s attorney general

Becerra is a former congressman who is now the attorney general for the state of California. He has drawn attention recently for the myriad of lawsuits he has brought against the Trump administration.

Jeh Johnson

Former homeland security secretary

A former homeland security secretary in the Obama administration, Johnson also served as the top lawyer in the Pentagon, and earlier in his legal career he worked as a federal prosecutor in New York City. Johnson’s name has also been mentioned as a possible pick for defense secretary.

Sen. Doug Jones (D)

Senator from Alabama

Jones is a former U.S. attorney who won a special election to replace Jeff Sessions as the U.S. senator from Alabama after Trump named Sessions his attorney general. Jones recently lost his race to hold the seat to retired football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Lisa Monaco

Former White House homeland security adviser

Monaco is a former federal prosecutor who served as White House homeland security adviser during President Obama’s second term. She has been an adviser to the Biden campaign.

Deval Patrick

Former governor of Massachusetts

Patrick is a former Massachusetts governor who ran unsuccessfully for the most recent Democratic presidential nomination. Earlier in his career, he worked as a lawyer in the private sector and ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Sally Yates

Former Justice Department official

Yates is a former U.S. attorney who served as deputy attorney general at the end of the Obama administration and as the acting attorney general briefly after Trump took office. She was fired from her position for refusing to defend Trump's travel ban.

Reported by Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett.

Secretary of Labor

Currently: Eugene Scalia

Under Trump, the Department of Labor has taken a largely employer- and industry-friendly approach that has frustrated worker advocates, labor unions and Democrats, and drawn particularly vocal outcry during the pandemic. The DOL passed rules that exempted large numbers of workers from the paid sick leave requirements in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and issued strict guidelines for unemployment insurance payouts to gig and self-employed workers that many saw as restrictive.

Its workplace safety division, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has declined to institute ironclad safety standards for the coronavirus, issuing only recommendations for employers instead of an enforceable set of rules.
Before the pandemic, the Department took moves to restrict the ability of workers told hold joint employers accountable for wage and hour violations, and reduced the number of workers who were eligible for mandatory overtime payments.

Potential candidates

Sharon Block

Director, Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School

Block, a labor official in the Obama administration and current director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, co-wrote a widely touted report released at the beginning of this year that called for a bold overhaul of the country’s outdated labor laws.

Seth Harris

Former deputy labor secretary

Harris, a deputy labor secretary under President Barack Obama, wrote a paper in 2015 arguing that gig workers should not be entitled to the full benefits and protections afforded to regular employees, an issue that is likely to dominate labor debates in the coming years.

Rep. Andy Levin (D)

Congressman from Michigan

The Democratic congressman from Michigan has union ties that run deep: He worked as an organizer for the SEIU in the 1980s and later held a leadership position at the AFL-CIO. He is earning praise from some unions and others who want the department to have a strong pro-labor bent.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I)

Senator from Vermont and former Democratic presidential candidate

The former Democratic presidential candidate and de facto leader of the left wing of the Democratic Party keeps popping up in media speculation about who will lead the Labor Department.

Julie Su

Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency

Su has been a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipient and hailed for her work on labor issues in the state.

Marty Walsh

Boston mayor

Walsh, who got his union card in 1988 when he joined Laborers Local 223, has a long history in organized labor, most recently as the head of Boston Building Trades before he became mayor. He reportedly has a strong relationship with Joe Biden.

Reported by Eli Rosenberg.

Director of National Intelligence

Currently: John Ratcliffe

The director of national intelligence serves as the president’s primary intelligence adviser and leader of the U.S. intelligence community. The DNI historically hasn’t been a political role, but under Trump, it has been held twice by loyalists who used their authority to advance Trump’s claims that he was the target of a conspiracy by intelligence officials. Under Biden, the DNI is expected to revert to the norm and act as a manager and setter of priorities for the agency.

[Biden to nominate Avril Haines as next director of national intelligence; she would be the first woman to hold the position]

Named

Avril Haines

Former deputy national security adviser

Haines served as deputy national security adviser during President Obama’s second term and before that as the first female deputy director of the CIA. She also was deputy counsel for national security affairs in the White House Counsel’s Office in the Obama administration. She would be the first woman to head the intelligence community.

Reported by Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima.

Secretary of State

Currently: Mike Pompeo

In the Trump administration, scores of veteran diplomats left after their loyalty to Trump was questioned and career employees were replaced by political appointees. Under Biden, the State Department is expected to be at the forefront of reversing some key Trump-era policies and restoring the centrality of diplomacy in foreign policy and battered U.S. credibility. Priorities include rebuilding strained alliances with Europe, returning to a more balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, corralling global efforts to combat climate change and possibly changing course with Iran if the U.S. reenters the nuclear treaty Trump abandoned. They also are expected to maintain pressure on China over human rights and trade issues.

[Biden picks Antony Blinken as secretary of state, emphasizing experience and the foreign policy establishment]

Named

Antony Blinken

Former deputy secretary of state and longtime Biden foreign policy aide

Blinken is a longtime Biden confident with decades of experience in Congress. During the Obama administration, Blinken served as deputy national security adviser from 2013 to 2015 and the deputy secretary of state from 2015 to 2017. Since the start of Biden’s presidential campaign, Blinken has been on leave as managing director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, to serve as Biden’s foreign policy adviser.

Reported by John Hudson and Carol Morello.

U.S. Trade Representative

Currently: Robert Lighthizer

Normally a low-profile outpost, the position of chief trade negotiator became one of the Trump administration’s most consequential jobs. Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer, an experienced trade attorney, was the intellectual muscle behind the president’s “America First” sentiments, driving a protectionist revolution in U.S. policy.With USTR’s help, Trump imposed tariffs on solar panels, washing machines, steel and aluminum along with much of what Americans import from China. Lighthizer, a fierce critic of the World Trade Organization, hammered out new agreements with South Korea, Mexico and Canada, and China. But he failed to achieve Trump’s goal of narrowing the U.S. trade deficit and left many U.S. allies irritated by his uncompromising stance.Biden has said he plans no early reversal of the Trump tariffs, though that could come later. He also plans investments in infrastructure, education and manufacturing before seeking new trade deals. And he has proposed a $400 billion “Buy America” initiative, which could require renegotiating some existing accords.

Potential candidates

Nelson Cunningham

President and co-founder, McLarty Associates

Cunningham worked for the incoming president as general counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Biden chaired in the mid-1990s. An early supporter of Biden’s presidential bid, Cunningham also served in the Clinton White House and is almost certainly the only USTR candidate who can say he was hired by Rudy Guiliani, as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan in the late 1980s.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez

Congressman from California

Elected earlier this month for the third time, Gomez helped broker changes in the labor provisions of the administration’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement. A Latino representing Los Angeles, he would help Biden assemble a Cabinet that “looks like America.” But beyond his recent work on novel labor provisions involving Mexico, his trade expertise is thin.

Katherine Tai

Chief trade counsel, House Ways & Means Committee

Along with substantial experience on Capitol Hill, Tai spent seven years as a USTR attorney specializing in enforcing trade agreements with China. She is well-regarded by both the corporate and progressive wings of the party and is backed by prominent lawmakers, including Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. A group of 10 female House Democrats led by Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Judy Chu wrote Biden on Tuesday backing Tai as “uniquely qualified” for the job.

Michael Wessel

Public affairs consultant

Wessel, who boasts four decades of experience handling trade and tax issues, is backed by influential labor figures. He also is steeped in China-related issues from his service on the congressionally chartered U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He got his start in Washington working for Rep. Richard Gephardt.

Reported by David J. Lynch.

Secretary of Transportation

Currently: Elaine Chao

The Trump administration issued a set of weaker carbon dioxide emissions standards for cars and SUVs and took a largely hands off approach to dealing with new technologies like automated vehicles. The fight against climate change will shape the Biden administration’s transportation policies. It is expected to stiffen emissions standards once again, and promote the adoption of electric vehicles. A grand bargain in Congress on infrastructure spending eluded the Trump administration, and reaching a spending deal to repair road and bridges and expand access to transit is expected to be another major focus for the new administration.

Potential candidates

Rahm Emanuel

Former Chicago mayor and Obama chief of staff

Emanuel served as mayor until last year, declining to run for a third term amid tumult over a fatal police shooting. He was a top aide to President Clinton, served three terms in Congress and was chief of staff for President Obama, who credited him with shepherding key legislation.

Sarah Feinberg

Interim president of New York City Transit

Feinberg was administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration and chief of staff at the Transportation Department under President Obama. She also served as an aide in the Obama White House and on Capitol Hill and was head of policy communications at Facebook.

Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles mayor

Garcetti has been the mayor of Los Angeles since 2013 and served as a co-chair of President-Elect Biden’s campaign. In LA, he has overseen an expansion of the notoriously gridlocked city’s metro system.

Reported by Ian Duncan and Michael Laris.

Secretary of Treasury

Currently: Steve Mnuchin

The Biden administration is expected to prioritize a massive stimulus package to shore up the economy’s shaky recovery. Biden also campaigned on tax increases for businesses and some of the wealthiest Americans — issues that the next secretary will have to pursue.

[Who is Janet Yellen, Biden’s pioneering pick to lead the Treasury amid a deep crisis?]

Named

Janet Yellen

Former chair of the Federal Reserve

Yellen was a Federal Reserve governor under both the Clinton and Obama administrations. She was the first female chair of the Fed, serving from 2014 to 2018. Yellen's term as chair was marked by lowering unemployment, record highs in the stock market and low inflation. Despite this, she was the first Fed chair not to be reappointed after serving a first full term. If nominated and approved, she would be the first female Treasury secretary.

Reported by Jeff Stein .

United Nations ambassador

Currently: Kelly Craft

Under Trump, the U.N. ambassador was removed from the president's Cabinet, as part of a larger retreat from diplomacy and the world stage. Biden will reinstate the ambassador to the Cabinet as his administration aims to reverse Trump's "America First" foreign policy.

[Biden’s choice for UN envoy signals return to US engagement]

Named

Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Former top U.S. diplomat to Africa and career Foreign Service officer

Thomas-Greenfield served as the top U.S. diplomat to Africa under President Obama, an assistant secretary job that capped her 35-year career in the Foreign Service. Known as “LTG” among State Department rank-and-file, Thomas-Greenfield retired in 2017 after Trump took power and joined the Albright Stonebridge advisory firm as a senior counselor where she worked with her mentor former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Reported by John Hudson.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Currently: Robert Wilkie

Veterans were a crucial constituency for Trump, who expanded their options to receive private health care outside the VA system. Biden, while not pledging to halt private care, has said he would work to build up the government-run system by filling thousands of vacancies for doctors, nurses and other medical staff.

Potential candidates

Chet Edwards

Former congressman from Texas

Edwards is a former Democratic congressman from Texas who represented a district based in Waco from 1991 to 2011. While not a veteran, he served in a leadership role on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and advocated for veterans while in Congress and since he left Washington.

Robert McDonald

Former VA secretary and Army veteran

McDonald, a Republican, served in the same role during the second term of the Obama administration, taking over after a scandal related to patient wait-times forced out his predecessor, Eric Shinseki. McDonald, an Army veteran, is the retired chairman, president and chief executive of Procter & Gamble. He is serving on the advisory board to Biden’s transition team.

Patrick Murphy

Former Army undersecretary and Army veteran

Murphy is an attorney from Pennsylvania who served as undersecretary of the Army during the last year of the Obama administration. An Army veteran, he was the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress and served two terms in the House as a Democrat representing Bucks County, Pa.

Reported by Lisa Rein.

Special envoy for climate

Biden pledged to reverse Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and to encourage other nations to increase their commitments. During the campaign, Biden introduced a $2 trillion plan to eliminate carbon emissions from the electric sector by 2035.Biden will also elevate a special envoy for climate, a position outside the Cabinet that would not require Senate confirmation.

[Biden names John Kerry as presidential climate envoy]

Named

John F. Kerry

Former secretary of state and senator from Massachusetts

As secretary of state during Obama's second term, Kerry helped negotiate and signed the Paris climate agreement on lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Reported by Kevin Uhrmacher.

National Security Adviser

Currently: Robert C. O'Brien

The national security adviser is a gatekeeper of sorts, coordinating the views of the military, the State Department and the intelligence community and helping the president understand the policy choices available. Trump has rarely sought or heeded the counsel of his national security adviser. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to choose a policy expert with whom he has had a long working relationship.

Named

Jake Sullivan

Top policy adviser to Biden’s campaign

Sullivan served as Biden's national security adviser during the Obama years and was a senior policy adviser to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign.

Reported by Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima.

White House press secretary

Currently: Kayleigh McEnany

The press secretary is the mouthpiece of the administration, interacting with the media and the White House press corps to deliver the administration's updates and perspectives. This position does not require Senate confirmation.

Potential candidates

Kate Bedingfield

Biden's deputy campaign manager and communications director

Bedingfield was deputy campaign manager and a frequent spokesperson for Biden's presidential campaign. She was appointed communications director for Biden in 2015. Under the Obama administration she also served as deputy director of media affairs and the director of response. After the 2016 election, she worked in communications for the entertainment and sports industry.

Symone Sanders

Senior adviser to Biden’s campaign

Before joining the Biden campaign, Sanders was a political analyst and commentator. She served as national press secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential run. She would be the first African American to hold the job.

Reported by Kate Rabinowitz.

Senior White House roles

Advisers and strategists play a key role in shaping the president's agenda. Under Trump, notable figures included Stephen Miller, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. These positions do not require Senate confirmation.

[Biden builds White House team and tries to show dangers of Trump’s intransigence]

Named

Anthony Bernal

Senior adviser to Jill Biden

Bernal is a longtime adviser to Jill Biden, most recently serving as her deputy campaign manager and chief of staff. He began his White House career as part of the scheduling and advance teams during the Clinton years and served in multiple roles for the Obama White House.

Mike Donilon

Senior adviser to the president

Donilon is a veteran political strategist who has advised the president-elect for nearly four decades, including during Biden's previous stint in the Obama White House.

Jen O'Malley Dillon

Deputy chief of staff

O'Malley Dillon became Biden's campaign manager earlier this year, stepping onboard as the team retooled after struggling in the early nominating contests. A veteran of Barack Obama's 2012 reelection run, she managed former congressman Beto O'Rourke's unsuccessful Democratic presidential bid in 2019.

Dana Remus

Counsel to the president

Remus most recently worked as general counsel to Biden's presidential campaign. Under Obama, Remus was the deputy assistant to the president and deputy counsel for ethics. She went on to work for the Obama Foundation and for the Obamas' personal offices.

Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon

Chief of staff to Jill Biden

Reynoso is a former ambassador to Uruguay who served in the State Department under Obama. Before joining Biden's team, she was a partner at the law firm Winston & Strawn.

Steve Ricchetti

Counselor to the president

Ricchetti is one of Biden's most trusted strategists and served as his chief of staff when Biden was vice president. He was a liaison to the Senate under Bill Clinton. Outside of government service he worked as a registered lobbyist.

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D)

Senior adviser to the president

Richmond is one of Biden's most prominent African American allies and will also serve as Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He was an early supporter of Biden who frequently campaigned for him and appeared on television on his behalf.

Julie Rodriguez

Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

Rodriguez was deputy campaign manager on Biden's presidential campaign. She joined from Harris's presidential campaign, whose Senate office she had previously worked for. She served as special assistant to the president during the Obama administration, as well as other roles in the White House and Interior Department.

Annie Tomasini

Director of Oval Office operations

Tomasini has served as Biden’s traveling chief of staff and worked with the Bidens for over a decade. Prior to that, she worked in public relations for Harvard University.

Reported by Sean Sullivan and Kate Rabinowitz.
About this story

Originally published Nov. 12. Cabinet shown based on current roles included in that group, as well as United Nations ambassador, which Biden plans to return to Cabinet-rank.

By Kate Rabinowitz, Lauren Tierney and Kevin Schaul. Additional contributions from Brittany Renee Mayes. Editing by Kevin Uhrmacher.