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Will Biden’s Cabinet Actually Be A Reflection Of America?

The General Services Administration (GSA) provided President-elect Joe Biden with access to the federal agencies and resources necessary to the presidential transition on Nov. 23. This allowed Biden to finally focus on the future of his administration instead of quarrel with sitting President Donald Trump over election results.

The big question is: Who will Biden select for his Cabinet? Some names have already been confirmed, and others continue to circulate. However, the process is far from over. It is imperative Biden’s Cabinet comprises the best members our country has to offer because it will be responsible for rebuilding a nation that has been torn apart by Trump. 

Biden faced pressures to include progressives in his Cabinet — an increasingly unlikely possibility as the potential GOP-controlled Senate threatens to thwart any progressive nominations. So far, Biden has nominated former Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken for Secretary of State and former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas for Secretary of Homeland Security, who are both highly qualified for their jobs. It is almost unusual to see qualified individuals nominated for key government offices because the past four years have seen unqualified, and oftentimes corrupt, individuals hold Cabinet positions.

Blinken’s and Mayorkas’ nominations were unveiled along with the rest of the national security team except for the Secretary of Defense. Michèle Flournoy, the leading contender for the position, has faced opposition from progressives, who are concerned about her ties to defense contractors and worry she would continue American involvement in unnecessary wars. With increasing partisan divides, even a small misstep will cause the GOP to go on the offensive, which is why a pick like Flournoy should be avoided.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., would be a better choice for Secretary of Defense. Duckworth, a military hero-turned-senator, even floated as Biden’s potential vice president earlier this year. She not only has the military experience necessary to lead the Department of Defense but the political experience as well. She is also aligned with Biden’s stance on defense spending and voted against cutting the defense budget. She would also make a great addition to the Department of Veterans Affairs, with her experience after serving as Assistant Secretary during the Obama administration.

Another high profile position is Attorney General. One name automatically comes to mind: former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who made headlines in 2017, when she instructed the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s Muslim ban. She possesses the experience required for the position of Attorney General, which is likely why she is already being considered for the nomination.

Yates should be Attorney General not only because of her qualifications but because it would symbolize the deterioration of the outgoing Trump administration. Who better for Attorney General than the woman who stood up to Trump in the first days of his administration for his discriminatory actions? Yates did her job and attempted to uphold the law and was fired for it — it is only right that Biden should nominate her.

Both Democrats and Republicans are keeping a close eye on nominations for the Secretary of Labor. The most apparent choice is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has spent a lifetime fighting for the working class. He would be a perfect choice; however, his state has a Republican governor who would most likely fill his vacant Senate seat with a Republican. Biden needs someone who has spent their life advocating for workers’ rights but who will also not upset the balance of the Senate. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who is endorsed by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka, would be the next best pick after Sanders. Walsh started his career as a labor organizer and would have the support of labor unions because he can sympathize with the working class.

If the Biden administration is efficient and conscientious in their choices and actions it has the potential to become one of the most impactful Democratic administrations in modern history. Biden wants his cabinet to be a “reflection of America,” and his confirmed and reported picks demonstrate his goal. He has included people representative of various races, ages, backgrounds, and hopefully genders. Most importantly, he seeks Cabinet nominees for their competence. Biden seems to be living up to his initial promises and hopefully will keep his word on many more.

Moh Samhouri is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 fall quarter. He can be reached at samhourm@uci.edu.