WASHINGTON (AP) – President-elect Joe Biden is under increasing pressure to expand racial and ideological diversity in the election of the Cabinet and other senior positions. A month and a half before taking office, he makes reproaches from activists who fear he won’t keep his promise to build an administration that looks like the country he controls.
Of the nine top selections Biden has achieved so far, only two – Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chief of Staff Ron Klain – are white men. This is a historic low that so far surpasses the historically diverse cabinet compiled by Barack Obama in 2009.
However, civil rights leaders grumble that none of the positions of the “big four” cabinet – the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State for Defense and the Treasury, and the Attorney General – have turned to colored people. And Biden refuses to commit to it.
“I promise you this will be the most diverse cabinet based on race, color, and gender that has ever existed in the United States,” the president-elect said instead at a press conference on Friday.
This came after Spanish congressional Democrats expressed frustration with Thursday’s call with Klain and other Biden advisers against New Mexican Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who allegedly removed her name from being seen as the new administration’s interior minister. He has been urged to remain a candidate to head the more prominent Ministry of Health and Human Services, but it is not clear that he will do so.
“I think there needs to be a little more emphasis on the party’s progressive wing as well as African Americans,” Martin Luther King III, the son of the murdered civil rights leader, said in a telephone interview on Friday. “But you can’t assume they’re not dealing with this.”
Biden is already facing tough Senate struggles to have his key choices confirmed by Republicans, and his own supporters ’dissatisfaction with his commitment to diversity could prove particularly problematic. He urges bias, but he could end up in a situation like Obama, who took office in 2009 when he spoke of being beyond political skirmishes but underestimated the strong repression of Congress.
Today’s Senate is bare and stiffer than when it was Vice President Biden, including GOP senators who watched their 2024 White House races. But the first meetings between the candidates and the senators seem to be going well.
“While we have been fully anticipating disagreement with some members of the Senate, we are pleased with the overwhelming reaction and bipartisan recognition our candidates have generally received,” says Sean Savett, a spokesman for the transition.
During his decades in the Senate, and even as Obama’s vice president, Biden relied on a small group of close advisers who were largely white. And after the election, it has so far proved once again that he chooses the people for whom he is most comfortable for the most important positions.
In addition to competition, another point of contention may come from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Many activists cheered for Biden’s election alongside Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, an advocate for policies to improve the lives of the working class. But otherwise, they have expressed concern that Biden will carry out staff selections that will not push hard enough for major reforms in various policy areas.
Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the Advocacy Group of the Working Families Party, said he understands that Biden wants reliable counselors, meaning he can rely on people who have been close to him for a long time. But he said that in the face of major challenges such as the coronavirus epidemic and a distressed economy, while we need to fight economic inequality and institutional racism, we need to look beyond the people “who have been involved in some way for 40 years. in some of the decisions taken under us here. “
“The Biden administration needs to choose people who have proven to be visionaries, tough fighters who take a large-scale approach to using the federal government’s machines to fight for working people,” Mitchell said. “This is not a time of moderation and gradation.”
NAACP President Derrick Johnson noted that Biden has made great efforts to make announcements and staff decisions on the epidemic, the economy and climate change., but “we have not seen racial justice for the same energy”.
“It’s an option for the reset button,” and Biden’s actions must match his civil rights campaign rhetoric, Johnson said. He said Biden had agreed to meet with civil rights leaders for the first time next week – but only after weeks of requests.
Biden, with his long political experience, listens to the criticism, but says, “It is the job of each of these groups to push and push” to the various leaders of the government.
Lorella Praeli, President of Community Change Action, welcomed the election of Alejandro Mayorkas, Cuban-American immigrant Biden, to head the Department of Homeland Security. But your organization and others will pay attention to where the elected president is going.
“There are Latinos who are ready to fill cabinet-level and senior government positions, so it’s a matter of choice,” Praeli said.
Biden still has a lot of leadership roles and most of the contestants are colorful people.
Tom Perez, chairman of the National Democratic Commission, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra were all mentioned as Attorney General. Ohio representative Marcia Fudge is believed to be at the forefront of the Department of Agriculture.
“The president-elect has said he will have a cabinet that looks like America, feels like America – and sees that this is the focus of attention,” said Rodney Slater, who was President Clinton’s transport secretary, Friday. information provided by the Meridian International Center.
However, things did not go smoothly for all those considered. In a telephone conversation with Klain on Thursday, Spanish Caucasian MPs in Congress said Lujan Grisham should not have been interior minister, he should not have been made public.
Caucus members requested that at least 20% of all candidate positions be filled by Latinos, including at least one of the “big four” positions.
Klain responded that Biden’s team is working to enclose Latinos in six major positions in the cabinet – adding homeland security and health and human services to the traditional four, according to the acquaintance of the invitation. Because of the selection of Mayorans, it seems less likely that a Latin will be chosen for defense or for the Attorney General.
King hoped Biden would appoint an African American to one of the “big four” posts, especially the attorney general.