You may think a president’s cabinet, the people he surrounds himself with to offer advice and run key government agencies, is his choice.
But, as established in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the choice of who serves in a president’s Cabinet is actually a shared duty between the administration and the U.S. Senate.
While the president may nominate the team that he wants to serve in his Cabinet, the Senate must vote to confirm those nominations.
The Cabinet includes the vice president and the heads of 15 executive departments — the secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs, as well as the attorney general.
As president-elect Joe Biden gets ready to assume his office, here is his list of Cabinet nominees:
1. Secretary of Agriculture: Tom Vilsack
Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, held the office of secretary of Agriculture under President Barack Obama.
2. Commerce Secretary: Gina Raimondo
Raimondo, a two-term governor of Rhode Island, founded a venture capital firm and was the state’s treasurer.
3. Secretary of Defense: Lloyd Austin
Austin is a four-star general who retired from the U.S. Army in 2016. Austin is different from other nominees in that he will need not only a confirmation vote from the Senate, but also a congressional waiver in order to nullify the seven-year waiting period that is required for active-duty military members to serve in a governmental role.
4. Education Department Secretary: Miguel Cardona
Cardona is Connecticut’s secretary of Education. He has said during the pandemic that he is in favor of in-school learning. Cardona is a former teacher and administrator in the district where he attended school.
5. Secretary of Energy: Jennifer Granholm
Granholm is the former governor of Michigan. She has also served as Michigan’s attorney general, was an energy adviser to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and is an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley law school.
6. Health and Human Services Secretary: Xavier Becerra
Becerra, who is California’s attorney general and a former congressman, will be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services if he is confirmed.
7. Secretary of Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas
Mayorkas was the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under Obama. Like Becerra, if he is confirmed he would be the first Latino to do so, and would also be the first immigrant to do so. Mayorkas was also the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under Obama.
8. Housing and Urban Development Secretary: Marcia Fudge
Fudge is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio. She is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
9. Secretary of the Interior: Deb Haaland
Haaland is a member of the House representing New Mexico. If she is confirmed, she will be the first Native American to lead the department.
10. Labor Secretary: Marty Walsh
Walsh is in his second term as the mayor of Boston. He was a union president and previously served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
11. Secretary of State: Antony Blinken
Blinken is a long-time Biden aide. He served as Biden’s national security adviser when Biden was vice president. Blinken also served as President Obama’s deputy secretary of State.
12. Secretary of Transportation: Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. He was the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, before he ran for president in 2020.
13. Treasury Secretary: Janet Yellen
Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, will serve as Treasury secretary. According to the Wall Street Journal, Yellen will not only be the first woman to lead the Department of the Treasury but the “first person to have headed the Treasury, the central bank and the White House Council of Economic Advisers,” the three most powerful economic positions in the nation.
14. Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Denis McDonough
McDonough served as Obama’s White House chief of staff. He has never served in the armed forces, and The Associated Press reported that that was “a fact noted by a leading veterans organization.”
15. Attorney General: Merrick Garland
Garland may be known to many as the person whose nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Mitch McConnell in 2015. Garland is a federal appeals court judge. While working in the Justice Department, he oversaw the prosecution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
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