Biden’s First Cabinet Picks on Tuesday, Incoming Chief Says
President-elect Joe Biden, second left, and Senator Kamala Harris, Vice President-elect in Wilmington, U.S. (Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

Biden’s First Cabinet Picks on Tuesday, Incoming Chief Says

President-elect Joe Biden plans to announce his first cabinet picks on Tuesday, incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday.

Klain, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” didn’t specify which positions Biden plans to fill first, or the people who will be nominated.

Biden has said that he’d already decided on a Treasury secretary. “You’ll find it is someone who I think is, will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, from the progressive to the moderate coalitions,” he told reporters Thursday.

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s stock has risen in recent days and she appears to be Biden’s likely choice to lead the Treasury Department, becoming the first woman to hold that post.

Fed Governor Lael Brainard had been widely seen as the favorite to get the job, but has had almost no contact with the Biden transition team since Election Day, according to people familiar with the matter. Roger Ferguson, a former Fed vice chair and the current chief executive of TIAA-CREF, was also in the running for treasury chief.

Biden’s top campaign adviser on foreign policy, Tony Blinken, a former deputy secretary of state, is well-positioned to be the president-elect’s pick to lead the State Department. Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Delaware Senator Chris Coons were also under consideration.

Pandemic Relief

Michele Flournoy, a former under secretary of defense for policy, is the current favorite to lead the Pentagon. If confirmed by the Senate, Flournoy would be the first woman to hold the job.

While Klain said Biden is moving quickly to move the transition forward, the Trump administration’s refusal to start the formal process is slowing efforts on everything from planning for distribution of coronavirus vaccines, to getting background checks for Biden’s picks.

He called Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision last week to withdraw pandemic relief funding from the Federal Reserve “a shame,” and said it “obviously raises the challenges we’re going to face.”

And Klain said two priorities -- an unemployment extension and an extension of a federal eviction moratorium -- can’t wait for Biden to take office.

“They have to be fixed right now,” he said.

Stubborn GSA

Klain said President Donald Trump, meanwhile, was “rejecting democracy” by seeking to overturn the election via state legislatures, and cited Senate Republicans, including Mitt Romney and Pat Toomey, saying the move would fail.

Klain also said that the inauguration of Biden in January would be scaled back from previous versions due to the pandemic, while trying to maintain some traditions.

Biden hasn’t ruled out legal action to force the hand of the General Services Administration, the agency which so far has declined to sign an ascertainment that Biden likely won the election, to free up money and access to government officials.

Once Biden is officially recognized as the president-elect, his team will receive more than $6 million set aside by Congress for transition-related expenses. The acknowledgment, which must be given by the administrator of the GSA, will also allow Biden to be given national security briefings.

As of Sunday, there are 16 days until the deadline for states to certify their results, 22 days until the Electoral College meets, 45 days until Congress certifies the results, and 59 days until inauguration.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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