Biden Rounds Out Economic Team with Commerce, Labor and SBA Nods

President-elect Joe Biden rounded out his cabinet Friday, introducing nominees to run the Commerce and Labor departments as well as the Small Business Administration and urged that his picks be confirmed quickly so they can begin work.

“It is my expectation the Senate will now move to confirm these nominees promptly and fairly,” he said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. In particular, he asked that key jobs like secretaries of Defense, Treasury and State be confirmed “as close to Jan. 20 as possible,” referring to his inauguration day.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is his nominee for Commerce secretary, the first Latina to be named to his cabinet. She will be joined by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh who is Biden’s pick to head the Labor Department. Biden will also introduce Isabel Guzman, who he has chosen to lead the Small Business Administration.

Biden said he seriously considered appointing progressive Vermont senator Bernie Sanders to the Labor role, but decided against it when runoff elections in Georgia left the Democratic caucus in control of the chamber with just 50 seats. Pulling Sanders out of the Senate would leave Democrats with only 49 seats until a special election.

“We can’t put control of the Senate at risk,” he said. “We agreed we couldn’t take that chance.”

Raimondo, a former venture capital executive, has focused on building relationships with business during her time as governor, a job she’s held since 2015. She was Rhode Island’s first female governor.

Guzman served as a deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to the administrator at the SBA during the Obama administration, and has run her own small businesses. Since April 2019, she’s been director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, part of that state’s Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

Walsh is a former head of the Boston Building and Construction Trades Council who enjoys union support and his appointment is a signal that Biden will make a pro-labor agenda.

Biden Rounds Out Economic Team with Commerce, Labor and SBA Nods

“Marty understands, like I do, that the middle class built this country and that the unions built the middle class”

Raimondo was national co-chairwoman of Michael Bloomberg’s 2020 presidential campaign. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

Raimondo and her team will inherit a litany of enforcement actions against Chinese technology companies. Most notably, the Trump administration has instituted an export ban for Huawei Technologies Co. that requires American firms to obtain government licenses before they’re allowed to sell U.S. tech and intellectual property to the Chinese telecommunications-equipment giant.

Also Friday, transition officials announced that BlackRock Inc.’s Mike Pyle will be chief economic adviser for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the latest executive from the asset manager to join the Biden administration.

Pyle, most recently BlackRock’s chief investment strategist, worked for five years on President Barack Obama’s economic staff.

He’s the most recent senior BlackRock executive to join the incoming administration. Brian Deese was appointed as head of the National Economic Council and Adewale Adeyemo was tapped as deputy Treasury secretary.

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