Biden announced on November 23 several key members of his foreign policy and national security teams. He named Antony Blinken as his choice for secretary of state, Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as US ambassador to the United Nations, Jake Sullivan as national security adviser and John Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate.
Each of Biden’s Cabinet nominees will need to be confirmed by the US Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans. Two runoff elections in Georgia on January 5 could determine which party controls the chamber and impact the Cabinet confirmation process.
The Cabinet includes the vice president and the heads of 15 executive departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs.
Several key positions also have Cabinet-level rank: White House chief of staff, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Office of Management & Budget director, United States Trade Representative ambassador, Council of Economic Advisers chairman and Small Business Administration administrator.
This list will be updated based on conversations with Biden allies and advisers and Democrats with knowledge of the matter.
Here’s who has been mentioned in conversations about potential top roles in the Biden administration:
Secretary of State
Antony Blinken (announced November 23)
Blinken served in the Obama administration as the deputy secretary of state, assistant to the president and principal deputy national security adviser. He served as the national security adviser to then-Vice President Biden and deputy assistant to the president during Obama’s first term. He has been a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Democratic staff director at the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
During the Clinton administration, Blinken served as a member of the National Security Council staff at the White House, and held roles as the special assistant to the president, senior director for European affairs, and senior director for speechwriting and then strategic planning. He was Clinton’s chief foreign policy speechwriter. Blinken was also being considered as national security adviser.
Previously under consideration:
Coons currently occupies the same Delaware Senate seat that Biden held for decades. A longtime Biden ally, Coons was one of the first members of Congress to endorse the former vice president when he declared his 2020 presidential candidacy. Coons sits on the following committees in the Senate: Foreign Relations, Appropriations, Judiciary, Small Business & Entrepreneurship and Select Committee on Ethics. Throughout his Senate career, Coons has been known for working across the aisle and forging strong relationships with high-profile Republicans who shared common interests.
Rice served in the Obama administration as UN ambassador and national security adviser. She served in Clinton’s administration as the special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the White House, the assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department and the director of international organizations and peacekeeping at the National Security Council. Rice was one of a handful of women on Biden’s shortlist for a running mate.
Secretary of the Treasury
Yellen is expected to be named Treasury secretary, according to a source with knowledge of the pick. Yellen’s selection would be historic, as she would be the first woman named to the post. She served as chair of the Federal Reserve Board from 2014 to 2018. She previously served for four years as the vice chair of the board, and president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco for four years prior to that. Yellen was also chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers from 1997 to 1999.
If chosen, the Federal Reserve governor would be the first woman to hold the powerful position. Brainard is not quite a consensus pick. Party progressives have other favorites, but neither would her nomination set off the kind of internal ideological war the incoming administration surely wants to avoid.
Sarah Bloom Raskin
Raskin was the deputy secretary of the US Department of the Treasury during the Obama administration. She was previously a governor of the Federal Reserve Board. Prior to joining the Federal Reserve Board, Raskin was the commissioner of financial regulation for the state of Maryland.
Outside of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Raskin, a former deputy secretary at the department, would be the top choice for most progressives. That she is less well known to the wider political world could also work in favor.
Secretary of Defense
Duckworth is the junior senator from Illinois. An Iraq war veteran, Duckworth was the first Thai-American woman elected to Congress, the first female double-amputee in the US Senate and the first senator to give birth while in office.
Duckworth was appointed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to head the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs after running for Congress unsuccessfully in 2006. She served in the position for three years, and then in 2009, then-President Barack Obama appointed Duckworth as the assistant secretary of the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
If chosen and confirmed, Flournoy would be the first female secretary of defense. She served as the under secretary of defense for policy under Obama. Prior to her confirmation, Flournoy helped lead Obama’s transition team at the Defense Department. During the mid-1990’s, she served as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and threat reduction, as well as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy. She co-founded the Center for a New American Security, a bipartisan think tank, and WestExec Advisors, a strategic advisory firm. Flournoy was a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Murphy, America’s first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress, represented the state’s 8th Congressional District. He served on the House Armed Services, Select Intelligence and Appropriations committees. He later served as the 32nd under secretary of the Army under President Barack Obama.
Secretary of Homeland Security
Alejandro Mayorkas (announced November 23)
Mayorkas was deputy secretary of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, and served as the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. While at USCIS, Mayorkas oversaw the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was an executive action under Obama that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation. President Donald Trump moved to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2017 and was ultimately blocked by the Supreme Court from doing so.
Previously under consideration:
Monaco played a critical role in Biden’s vice presidential selection committee, and served as Homeland Security and counterterrorism advisor to Obama. Prior to that job, Monaco served as an assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice, and was a chief of staff to then-Director of the FBI Robert S. Mueller III.
Garland was appointed to the US Court of Appeals in 1997, and formerly served as chief judge from 2013 through February 2020. He was nominated by President Barack Obama to the US Supreme Court after a vacancy was created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016, but the Republican-controlled Senate refused to schedule a vote or even hold hearings on his nomination. Garland was a candidate for the Supreme Court twice before Obama officially nominated him — he was considered for seats ultimately filled by Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
Garland served as an assistant US attorney for the District of Columbia from 1989 to 1992, and as deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Justice Department from 1993 to 1994. Prior to his appointment as a US circuit judge, he served as principal associate deputy attorney general. Garland supervised the investigation of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and oversaw the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh. He also led the investigations of the 1996 Olympics bombing in Atlanta and the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.
Johnson was the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security from 2013 to 2017 under the Obama administration. Previously, Johnson had been appointed by Obama to be general counsel of the Department of Defense. In the Clinton administration, Johnson served as general counsel of the Department of the Air Force.
Jones is the junior United States Senator from Alabama. He lost his reelection bid earlier this month to Republican Tommy Tuberville. President Bill Clinton appointed Jones as US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, and Jones was the lead prosecutor suing KKK members responsible for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Jones was also involved in the prosecution of Eric Rudolph, whose 1998 attack on a Birmingham abortion clinic killed an off-duty police officer.
Yates was fired by Trump from her role as acting attorney general. The stunning move came after CNN and other outlets reported that Yates told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees. Trump’s executive order, signed in January 2017, barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the following 90 days, suspended the admission of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely suspended the Syrian refugee program. The executive order was later blocked by a federal judge, but the Supreme Court ultimately upheld a revised version of the ban.
Yates had been appointed by Obama and was set to serve until Trump’s nominee for attorney general was confirmed.
Secretary of the Interior
Haaland is a congresswoman from New Mexico, and is one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. Biden has said he wants an administration that looks like the country. Haaland, the vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary if she were to get an offer and accept it. Haaland also leads the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.
Udall is the senior senator from New Mexico. He previously was the US representative for the state’s 3rd Congressional District. In 1990, hr was elected New Mexico attorney general, and was reelected in 1994. Udall also was chief counsel to the New Mexico Department of Health and Environment, and he fought for stronger environmental and health protections.
Secretary of Commerce
Yang is an entrepreneur and former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. He rose from obscurity to become a highly-visible candidate, and his supporters are sometimes referred to as the “Yang Gang.” His presidential campaign was centered around the idea of universal basic income, and providing every US citizen with $1,000 a month, or $12,000 a year. His campaign slogan was “MATH,” or “Make America Think Harder.” Yang joined CNN as a political commentator in February, after dropping out of the presidential race.
Secretary of Labor
Levin is a popular progressive who is also growing his base of support with labor leaders, including at the Communications Workers of America. The United Auto Workers and National Nurses United unions are backing the Michigan congressman for the role. Like Walsh, Levin has a background as an organizer with major unions. But he also has credibility with climate activists for having helped create Michigan’s Green Jobs Initiative.
Nelson is the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. She cemented her image as a rising star of the labor movement during a prolonged government shutdown that stretched from December 2018 to January 2019. During the shutdown, Nelson appeared on cable television and used social media to warn of the dangers of not paying airport workers, and called for a general strike at an AFL-CIO gathering in January.
Sanders told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday that if Biden asked him to join his Cabinet as Labor secretary, he would accept the nomination. “If I had a portfolio that allowed me to stand up and fight for working families, would I do it? Yes, I would,” Sanders said.
Walsh is the mayor of Boston, and is AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s pick for the job, a big endorsement in what could soon turn into a contentious debate between moderate Democrats and progressives, who will favor Sen. Bernie Sanders or Michigan Rep. Andy Levin. Walsh grew up in a union family and became a top Boston labor leader before being elected mayor.
Health and Human Services Secretary
Michelle Lujan Grisham
Grisham was the first Democratic Latina to be elected governor in the US. Grisham was elected to Congress in 2011 and served three terms representing New Mexico’s 1st congressional district. She was chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Grisham was under consideration to serve as Biden’s vice president.
Murthy, a doctor of internal medicine, is the co-chair of Biden’s coronavirus advisory board. He previously served as the US surgeon general after being nominated by Obama. He resigned in April 2017 at the request of the Trump administration. He was confirmed by the Senate after facing opposition from Senate Republicans for calling to treat gun violence as a public health issue.
Raimondo is the first woman governor of Rhode Island. She previously served as the general treasurer of the state. Raimondo was elected governor in 2014 and won reelection in 2018. That same year, Raimondo was elected to serve as the chairwoman of the Democratic Governors Association. Raimondo was among the women considered for Biden’s running mate.
Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary
Keisha Lance Bottoms
Bottoms is the mayor of Atlanta and is a rising star of the Democratic Party. Bottoms stepped into the national spotlight when she denounced vandalism in her city as “chaos” after demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis. Bottoms is a former judge and city council member. She was considered as a potential running mate for Biden.
Emanuel is a former mayor of Chicago and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama. He previously served in the US House of Representatives. He worked in the Clinton administration as an adviser to the President.
Emanuel’s record in Chicago could be a major hurdle to confirmation in the Senate, particularly among progressives, considering the city’s crime rate and the 2014 police shooting of Laquan McDonald, which is the leading reason he did not seek a third term as mayor.
Garcetti is the mayor of Los Angeles. He was first elected to the role in 2013 and won reelection in 2017. He was previously a member of the Los Angeles City Council and served as council president. Garcetti is the first Jewish mayor of Los Angeles.
Secretary of Education
Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO and has long pushed for education reform. Prior to holding that role, she was the president of the United Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2. Weingarten served on an education reform commission put together by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. She also chaired New York City’s Municipal Labor Committee.
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Inslee is the governor of Washington state, and previously served in the US House of Representatives. He was a Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 election. Inslee is dedicated to addressing climate change and other environmental issues, and made the environment the central focus of his 2020 presidential bid. While in the US House of Representatives, he served on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and on the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield (announced November 23)
An African American woman with a lengthy career in foreign service, Thomas-Greenfield, previously served as assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs.
The selection of Thomas-Greenfield helps Biden honor his pledge to build a diverse cabinet.
Previously under consideration:
Buttigieg is the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. Buttigieg’s presidential bid was historic — he was the first out gay man to launch a competitive campaign for president, and he broke barriers by becoming the first gay candidate to earn primary delegates for a major party’s presidential nomination.
Director of National Intelligence
Avril Haines (announced November 23)
If confirmed by the Senate, Haines would become the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence. Haines served as assistant to the president and principal deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama. She chaired the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, which is responsible for formulating the administration’s national security and foreign policy. Haines previously served as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Avril was also legal adviser to the NSC. She served as deputy chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while Biden served as chairman.
National Security Adviser
Jake Sullivan (announced November 23)
Sullivan is a senior policy adviser to President-elect Joe Biden. He served in the Obama administration as national security adviser to then-Vice President Joe Biden and director of policy planning at the US Department of State. He also was deputy chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sullivan was Clinton’s senior policy adviser during her 2016 presidential campaign, and previously served as Clinton’s deputy policy director during her 2008 presidential primary campaign. He was a member of Barack Obama’s debate preparation team for his general election campaign.
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
John Kerry (announced November 23)
In addition to serving as a special envoy to the president on climate, Kerry will sit on the National Security Council. Kerry was President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State from 2013 to 2017, and was the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2004. He previously served in the Senate from 1985 to 2012, and was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry in 2019 was a key figure in the creation of World War Zero, an organization dedicated to combating the global climate crisis. He was a key campaign surrogate for Biden in the 2020 rage, and was a co-chair of the Biden-Sanders unity task force focused on climate. He was also one of the architects of the Paris climate agreement to reduce global emissions in the Obama administration, which Trump later withdrew the US from.
White House Press Secretary
Bedingfield was the deputy campaign manager and communications director for Biden’s presidential campaign. She worked at the White House under the Obama administration as Biden’s communications director. She previously worked at the Motion Pictures Association of America, where she was the vice president of corporate communications. Bedingfield was also the spokeswoman for John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign, and the communications director for Jeanne Shaheen’s 2008 Senate campaign in New Hampshire.
Bedingfield is also being considered for White House communications director.
Jean-Pierre was a senior adviser to Biden’s campaign and later served as chief of staff to Kamala Harris. Jean-Pierre worked for Barack Obama’s and Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaigns and served as a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC. She would also come to the team with connections in activism following her role as chief public affairs officer at MoveOn.org and on the campaign for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Initiative.
Sanders was a senior adviser to the Biden 2020 campaign. Sanders worked as national press secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign. She later joined CNN as a political commentator. She is also under consideration for principal deputy press secretary.
Additionally, here are other positions the Biden transition team has announced.
Chief of Staff
Ron Klain (announced on November 11)
Klain served as Biden’s chief of staff in the Obama White House and was also a senior aide to the President. He previously served as the chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore and Attorney General Janet Reno. Klain was appointed in 2014 by President Barack Obama to serve as the White House Ebola Response Coordinator. In 2000, he was the General Counsel for the Gore Recount Committee. Klain has been a top debate preparation adviser to Biden, Obama, Bill Clinton, Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.
Deputy Chief of Staff
Jen O’Malley Dillon (announced November 17)
O’Malley Dillon will join Biden’s incoming administration as a deputy White House chief of staff. O’Malley Dillon was Biden’s presidential campaign manager and has served numerous other political campaigns — including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s failed 2020 presidential primary campaign and both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. She is expected to have the operations portfolio in the White House — a role Jim Messina played in Obama’s first term. She has held a number of top jobs within the universe of Democratic organizations, including executive director of the Democratic National Committee and the founding partner at Precision Strategies, a Democratic consulting firm.
Senior Adviser to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
Cedric Richmond (announced November 17)
Richmond will serve as senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Richmond was a national co-chairman of the Biden campaign and is currently a co-chair of the Biden-Harris transition team. Richmond has represented Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district in the US House of Representatives since 2011. He previously served as the chairman of the influential Congressional Black Caucus.
Senior Adviser to the President
Mike Donilon (announced November 17)
Donilon will serve as senior adviser to the president. He served as the chief strategist for the Biden campaign, and was responsible for overseeing the campaign’s messaging, television advertising, speechwriting and polling. Donilon previously served as a counselor to then-Vice President Biden in the Obama White House.
Counsel to the President
Dana Remus (announced November 17)
Remus will serve as counsel to the president. She served as general counsel to the Biden campaign, and previously was the general counsel to the Obama Foundation and former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama’s personal office. During the Obama administration, Remus was the deputy assistant to the President and deputy counsel for ethics.
Counselor to the President
Steve Ricchetti (announced November 17)
Ricchetti will serve as a counselor to the president. He served as chairman of the Biden campaign. Ricchetti has previously served in senior roles on Capitol Hill and at the White House, including as assistant to the president, chief of staff to then-Vice President Biden, deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, deputy assistant to the President for legislative affairs for Clinton during the impeachment hearings, and executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 1992.
Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
Julie Rodriguez (announced November 17)
Rodriguez will serve as the director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Rodriguez served as deputy campaign manager on the Biden campaign. She previously was the national polling director and traveling chief of staff for Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign. During the Obama administration, Rodriguez served as special assistant to the president and senior deputy director of public engagement in the Office of Public Engagement.
Director of Oval Office Operations
Annie Tomasini (announced November 17)
Tomasini will serve as director of Oval Office operations. Tomasini currently serves as Biden’s traveling chief of staff. She previously served as deputy press secretary for then-Vice President Biden and press secretary for Biden when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel
Cathy Russell (announced November 20)
Russell serves on the advisory board of the Biden-Harris transition team and served as vice chair of the campaign. Russel served for all eight years in the Obama administration at the White House and the State Department. She served as deputy assistant to the president and chief of staff to then-second lady Jill Biden. She also was the US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues.
She previously served as senior adviser on international women’s issues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as associate deputy attorney general at the US Department of Justice, as staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee and as senior counsel to Sen. Patrick Leahy.
Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs
Louisa Terrell (announced November 20)
Terrell oversees legislative affairs for the Biden-Harris transition team. She previously served as special assistant to the president for legislative affairs in the Obama administration. Terrell served as an adviser to Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, as deputy chief of staff for Biden when he was in the US Senate and chief of staff to Sen. Cory Booker.
White House Social Secretary
Carlos Elizondo (announced November 20)
Elizondo was a special assistant to the president and social secretary to the Bidens for all eight years of the Obama administration. He will be the first Hispanic American appointed to this position. During the Clinton administration, Elizondo served in both the White House and in the Office of the US Chief of Protocol.
Chief of Staff to Jill Biden
Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon (announced November 17)
Pantaleon will serve as chief of staff to Jill Biden. She is currently a partner at the law firm Winston & Strawn. During the Obama administration, Reynoso served as US ambassador to Uruguay and as deputy assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere at the State Department.
Senior Adviser to Jill Biden
Anthony Bernal (announced November 17)
Bernal will serve as senior adviser to Jill Biden in the White House. He was the deputy campaign manager and chief of staff to Jill Biden on the campaign. He worked with Jill Biden for all eight years of the Obama administration, including as the second lady’s director of scheduling, trip director and deputy chief of staff.
National security adviser
Sullivan, a former Obama administration official, is the leading contender to be national security adviser.
He previously served as national security adviser under then-Vice President Biden and as director of policy planning at the State Department.
Sullivan was also the deputy chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and served as a top policy aide during her 2016 White House bid.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story used a photo that incorrectly identified Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania. It has been replaced.
CNN’s MJ Lee, Priscilla Alvarez and Jessica Dean contributed to this report.
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