Joe Biden's Presidential Cabinet: Everything We Know

The president-elect has pledged to build a Cabinet that reflects the nation's diversity.

joe biden kamala harris presidential cabinet
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Within 48 hours of being declared the next president of the United States, Joe Biden jumped into action. By the morning of Nov. 9, he had launched a new website outlining four central priorities for the beginning of his term, assembled a COVID-19 task force, and, following a meeting with his 13-member, doctor-led team, delivered a briefing outlining his pandemic response plan.

Next up on Biden's agenda for the post-election, pre-inauguration interregnum period is likely a plan to begin appointing members of his Cabinet. The president is in charge of hiring (and, if you're Donald Trump, repeatedly firing) the Cabinet, which includes the leaders of 15 federal departments, including Education, Justice, State, and Defense, as well as the vice president and a handful of other high-ranking administration officials. Typically, the president-elect begins assembling the Cabinet shortly after being elected so that the Senate can begin holding hearings in early January and confirm the appointments as soon as the presidential term begins.

Beyond Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, of course, Biden has yet to name the vast majority of the members of his Cabinet—but here's everything we know so far about when he'll do so, and who he'll be appointing.

What has Joe Biden said about filling out his Cabinet?

In stark contrast to Trump's overwhelmingly white and male Cabinet, Biden has repeatedly expressed his desire to assemble an advisory group that more accurately reflects the demographics of the country they're serving, a mission that began with the selection of the nation's first Black, Asian-American, female vice president-elect as his running mate.

"I said from the outset I wanted a campaign that represented America, and I think we did that. Now that's what I want the administration to look like," Biden said in his Nov. 7 victory speech after being named the 46th POTUS. And earlier this year, he expanded even more on what that might look like: "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," he said in April.

A diverse administration, then, is expected to be a mix of many women (if not a majority), BIPOC leaders, progressive and moderate Democrats, and potentially even some moderate Republicans, which would support Biden's repeated commitment to work across the aisle. Such a Cabinet could further make history if it includes people of color and/or women at the top of the Treasury and Defense departments, which Politico notes are the two remaining departments that have only ever been led by white men.

Biden will have to be especially strategic in his Cabinet choices, since he wouldn't want to pluck too many Democrats from Congress and risk losing his party's majority in the House of Representatives. Additionally, pending the results of Georgia's two Senate runoffs, the confirmation of those choices could be in the hands of a majority-Republican Senate. If so, Biden may have trouble getting progressive Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders into his Cabinet, as evidenced by an interview Lindsey Graham gave on Nov. 6 in which he admitted that Biden "deserves a Cabinet," but warned that "there may be some people that I just can't vote for because I think they're unqualified or too extreme."

Who will be appointed to Joe Biden's Cabinet?

After spending his first week as president-elect focusing on healthcare, Biden has since begun slowly building out the administration that will help him carry out his plans for healthcare and other reforms. He announced several key members of his foreign policy and national security teams, including multiple Cabinet-level posts, on Nov. 23. The majority of Cabinet positions, however, still have yet to be decided. Appointment decisions are reportedly made based on discussions between Biden, his transition team and close advisers, and his lawyers.

Here's who Biden has chosen or is deciding among for most of the remaining Cabinet-level positions (options for the director of the Office of Management and Budget and administrator of the Small Business Administration have yet to be reported), according to official announcements and to predictions compiled by Politico, The New York Times, and USA Today based on information from Biden's team, sources close to the candidates, lobbyists, and general knowledge of the nation's leaders in each area of expertise.

Chief of Staff: Ron Klain

Biden named Klain his chief of staff on Nov. 11. Klain previously served as then-Vice President Biden's chief of staff from 2009 to 2011, and was an adviser on his 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns. As chief of staff, Klain will oversee and manage the daily activities and operations of the rest of the administration, working as something of a gatekeeper between the president and the Cabinet, Congress, and other political groups.

Secretary of State: Antony Blinken

Blinken, nominated on Nov. 23, will take on the role of Biden's go-to adviser on all matters of foreign policy, including immigration laws. He was the Obama-Biden Administration's Deputy Secretary of State from 2015 to 2017, and also served as Principal Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama and National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden during Obama's presidency.

Secretary of Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas

If confirmed by the Senate to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Mayorkas, who was born in Cuba, would be the first immigrant and the first Latino to hold the position. Mayorkas, who was also nominated on Nov. 23, was the deputy secretary of the department from 2013 to 2016, after a stint as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during Obama's first term.

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines

Haines was the first woman to serve as Deputy Director of the CIA, a position she held from 2013 to 2015; if her Nov. 23 nomination is confirmed, she'll also be the first woman to be named Director of National Intelligence. She worked closely with Biden during his years in the Senate and in the Obama administration, and was chosen in June to lead his transition team's National Security and Foreign Policy Team.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Thomas-Greenfield spent 35 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, serving on four continents and working as the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs during Obama's second term. Though the U.S. Ambassador to the UN is not currently a Cabinet-level position, it was raised to Cabinet rank under the Clinton and Obama Administrations, and held onto that distinction for the first half of Trump's presidency, so Thomas-Greenfield's Nov. 23 nomination could very well make her a member of Biden's Cabinet if he chooses to re-promote the position.

Secretary of Agriculture: TBA

Potential candidates: Heidi Heitkamp; Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio; Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.

Secretary of Commerce: TBA

Potential candidates: Rohit Chopra; Susan Helper; Meg Whitman; Terry McAuliffe; Mellody Hobson.

Secretary of Defense: TBA

Potential candidates: Michele Flournoy; Jeh Johnson; Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

Secretary of Education: TBA

Potential candidates: Randi Weingarten; Lily Eskelsen Garcia; Linda Darling-Hammond.

Secretary of Energy: TBA

Potential candidates: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich.; Ernest Moniz; Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall; Arun Majumdar.

Secretary of Health and Human Services: TBA

Potential candidates: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel; Dr. Vivek Murthy; New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham; Dr. Mandy Cohen.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: TBA

Potential candidates: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; California Rep. Karen Bass; Alvin Brown; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Diane Yentel; Maurice Jones.

Secretary of the Interior: TBA

Potential candidates: David Hayes; New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich; New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall; Mark Begich; Mark Udall; Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva; New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland.

Secretary of Labor: TBA

Potential candidates: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; William Spriggs; Sharon Block; Julie Su; Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich.; Sara Nelson; Tom Perez.

Secretary of Transportation: TBA

Potential candidates: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Beth Osborne; Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Rahm Emanuel.

Secretary of the Treasury: TBA

Potential candidates: Janet Yellen, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Lael Brainard; Roger Ferguson; Sarah Bloom Raskin; Mellody Hobson; Raphael Bostic; Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs: TBA

Potential candidates: Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; Pete Buttigieg; Jason Kander.

Attorney General: TBA

Potential candidates: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Sally Yates; Stacey Abrams; Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Preet Bharara; Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.; Xavier Becerra; Tom Perez.

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: TBA

Potential candidates: Mary Nichols; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; Heather McTeer Toney.

U.S. Trade Representative: TBA

Potential candidates: Jennifer Hillman; Miriam Sapiro; Tom Nides; Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif.; Nelson Cunningham.

Director of the CIA: TBA

Potential candidates: Thomas E. Donilon; Michael Morell.

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