Joe Biden’s Choices for His Upcoming Administration and What they Mean

Democratic candidate Joe Biden won the recent US presidential election after the world waited for the counting process with bated breath. The former vice-president under Barack Obama defeated incumbent Donald Trump by gaining 290 electoral votes.

The big question now is who Biden will pick for key positions in his administration. Previously, Biden promised that his cabinet would be the most diverse, consisting of individuals from various backgrounds, from more people of color to greater representation of America’s LGBT community.

“Men, women, gay, straight, center, across the board, Black, white, Asian—it really matters that it looks like the country because everyone brings a slightly different perspective,” the 77-year old said in April.

Will Susan Rice be the Next Secretary of State?

The choice for Secretary of State will be the most anticipated given America’s impact on the rest of the world and the important role played by its head diplomat. Former national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Susan Rice has been predicted to replace Mike Pompeo as upcoming Secretary of State.

Rice is a veteran diplomat who sparked controversy because over the way she handled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012-when she was Washington’s ambassador to the UN. Rice falsely claimed that an American movie that insulted Islam triggered the attack, snubbing the allegation the militant groups might have been behind the incident.

“I acknowledge that there were some words and phrases I uttered on Sunday, Sept. 16, that I wish I could restate with more precision, less certitude, or not have said at all. None of them materially changed the substance of what I said, but they offered fodder for my critics to pick at,” she wrote in her memoir Tough Love in 2019.

Former US President Barack Obama later appointed Rice to be National Security Adviser, a position that does not need Congressional approval.

Other candidates are Obama’s former deputy secretary of state Anthony Blinken — who served as Biden’s foreign policy advisor — and career diplomat William Burns, who once was also Obama’s deputy secretary of state.

Restoring ‘American Values’ Overseas

Bureaucrats play a vital role in formulating and preserving all policies, including foreign policy. Therefore, core principles are not expected to shift whoever becomes the POTUS.

However, everything changed under Trump as he tended to make decisions unilaterally such as US withdrawal from several crucial agreements including the Paris Climate Accord. 

“I can’t tell what Biden’s foreign policy will look like, but he is expected to restore American values. The U.S. under Trump does not seem to care about other countries’ prosperity,” said University of Indonesia International Relations Professor Hikmahanto Juwana.

“Also, Trump shocked the world with his unpredictable acts. He pulled out from the Iran nuclear deal, wanted to leave the World Health Organization (WHO), and moved the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Last but not least, Trump did not want to listen to bureaucrats. He sacked anyone he wanted, tweeted openly about everything,”  Juwana said in an interview with InsideOver.

How Interventionist Will Biden Be?

It is feared that Biden’s foreign policy will be more interventionist because of the support he has received from senior military officials. Juwana did not elaborate furthermore on such a premise.

“We can’t predict yet about whether Biden’s policy will be interventionist or not. However, at least those retired officials see that Biden will be more cooperative with the Congress, that’s my opinion so far,” he commented.

John J.Farmer, Jr, director of Rutgers University-New Brunswick’s Eagleton Institute of Politics, echoed similar sentiments when commenting on the impact of the US election on the use of presidential power.

“If Biden is elected then, given his history in the Senate, we may see more of an attempt to work more collaboratively with Congress, at least initially. There will always be tension between the president and Congress. Still, his legislative background may enable him to work with Congress to a greater extent than Bush, Obama or Trump,” Farmer told Newswise a day before the election.

Investors are Waiting for Biden’s Economic Team

Biden’s victory sent a positive signal to the market, with hopes that the new POTUS will focus on recovering the domestic economy hit by the pandemic as well as ease trade tension and boost global cooperation.

Several female candidates are reportedly being closely considered for Treasury Secretary, namely Lael Brainard (the Fed Governor), former Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, and former Fed boss Janet Yellen. Another candidate being considered is formr deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, according to Marketwatch.

Bernie Sanders for Labor Secretary?

Once one of Biden’s rivals in the presidential primary, Senator Bernie Sanders will reportedly be tapped for the post of Labor Secretary in a Biden admin. 

The Vermont-based senator-is an experienced politician who has been fighting for labors rights and social welfare for decades. The nomination of the elderly social democratic senator sounds good news for American workers affected by the pandemic.

While the Labor Department does not create a policy, it has flexibility in interpreting and implementing existing law, as Jacobin mag explained. For example, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich successfully implemented the Family and Medical Leave Act and increased minimum wage under the Bill Clinton administration.

How Many Republicans Will be in Biden’s Cabinet?

Past presidents such as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama involved candidates from the opposing parties in their cabinets. However, as such a tradition was over during the Trump administration, it is feared that a Republican candidate’s inclusion will create a rift within the Democratic Party.

If Republicans control the Senate, it is unlikely for Biden to put progressive politicians such as Warren and Sanders in his cabinet, Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, told USATODAY.

The Democratic party advocates issues such as labor protection, human rights, and environmental conservation. Therefore, activists hope that Biden will include progressive politicians with a renowned reputation in those areas in the cabinet.

Tapping a candidate from an opposition party is familiar as a sign of unity in the Cabinet. However, Biden is now facing a divided Republican party: those who support and oppose Trump as Matt Bennett, executive vice president of public affairs at the centrist think tank Third Way, recently warned.

“You get the downside of having someone in your Cabinet that’s not aligned with you ideologically and alienates the left, without getting the upside of bipartisanship,” Bennett told Politico. :Does nominating a Never Trumper really bring people together?”