After promising “the most diverse cabinet” in US history, President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly picked a Black former military general Lloyd J. Austin for the post of Secretary of Defense.
All eyes are on what sort of choices Joe Biden will make to build the "most diverse cabinet” in US history.
Biden has already officially announced 10 of his 24 cabinet positions, which includes five women and five men.
Despite showing his willingness to uphold his campaign promise, the president-elect has lately come under fire. His critics argue that his appointments indicate he's more inclined towards embracing the status quo by keeping the centre-right lobbyists happy. This would eventually influence the final shape of his cabinet.
According to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, Biden's transition team is already crowded with "at least 40 lobbyists or former lobbyists'' who espouse the views of corporate centrists. Seeing the stranglehold of such figures tightening over Biden, progressives have begun to resist, asking the next American President to steer clear of interest groups and align his administration according to his reformist campaign pledges.
A Business Insider political analyst warned that if Biden excluded progressives and preferred to maintain the status quo, it would be "a gift to the next right-wing pseudo-populist grifter that could emerge in four years."
To woo the left-leaning American public during the presidential campaign, Biden was loud and clear in his promise that he will build "the single most diverse Cabinet based on race, colour, based on gender that’s ever existed in the United States of America”.
In a move that might dispel the fear his critics have aired thus far, on December 7, he reportedly picked Lloyd Austin and Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Defense and Health and Human Services Secretary, respectively.
According toUS media outlets, retired four-star Army general Lloyd J. Austin will be Secretary of Defense, should his appointment be approved by the Senate.
The 67-year-old general, who retired in 2016, will be the first Black leader of the Pentagon. Austin has accepted Biden's offer, according to a person familiar with the process.
One of the people who confirmed the pick said Austin’s selection was about choosing the best possible candidate, but acknowledged that pressure had built to name one of colour and that Austin’s stock had risen in recent days.
The Californian Attorney General Xavier Becerra is his selection for health secretary.
If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a $1 trillion-plus agency with 80,000 employees and a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, leading-edge medical research and health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans.
Becerra, as California’s top lawyer, has led the coalition of Democratic states defending “Obamacare” from the Trump administration’s latest effort to overturn it.
Women in Biden’s administration
Undoubtedly, Kamala Harris is set to mark several firsts in American political history despite already being the first woman vice president-elect.
Harris, 56, makes history as the first Black person and the first person of Asian descent to serve as number two in the US.
The child of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, she has been a taboo-breaker her entire career, starting from 2010 when she was elected as the first Black and first woman to serve as California's Attorney General.
Biden’s pick of ex-Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary makes her the first woman to lead the department in US history.
There are two Black women: Linda Thomas-Greenfield for US ambassador to the United Nations, and Cecelia Rouse, who is to be chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.
Neera Tanden, who is of Indian descent, will serve as Director of Office of Management and Budget. Furthermore, Latino Alejandro Mayorkas has been chosen to fill the position of Secretary of Homeland Security.
Democrats, however, expect more from Biden as they urge him to add more diversity to his administration.
For example, Texas Rep. Vicente Gonzalez called for “at least five Latinos” to be appointed for cabinet-level positions. Similar calls are coming from other quarters.