President-elect Joe Biden faces a difficult balance in his final cabinet appointments, as left-wing Democrats and civil rights groups demand more progressives and members of minority groups in his administration.
As Progressives applauded the appointment of Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general and former congressman, as Mr Biden’s health and human services secretary on Monday, they pushed the president-elect to go further. as he filled his team.
Pressure from the left precedes the senior official appointments expected this week, including the next Defense Secretary and other members of Biden’s “economic and home cabinet”, according to the transition.
So far, the progressives have faced a slate of nominees mostly left of the center. Mr Biden’s progressive rivals, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren or Senator Bernie Sanders, are no longer being considered for cabinet positions – a move the president-elect justified by saying he needs all of them. current Democratic lawmakers in a tightly divided Senate.
“Progressives don’t oppose, but they don’t jump up and say ‘yay’ either,” said Don Beyer, a Democratic congressman from Virginia.
the nomination Mr. Becerra, 62, the son of Mexican immigrants, came after intense pressure from Latino groups for greater representation in Mr. Biden’s administration.
Civil rights groups, including the NAACP, have also called on Mr Biden to nominate more black candidates for cabinet positions, beyond the selection of Cecilia Rouse as chair of the council of economic advisers of the White House and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as US Ambassador to the UN.
Retired General Lloyd Austin, who is African-American, has recently become one of the main candidates for the head of the Pentagon, according to several American media.
Pete D’Alessandro, a longtime political agent from Iowa and former adviser to Mr Sanders, said the progressive community was growing frustrated that Mr Biden and his team were more concerned with making their appointments acceptable to Republicans.
“[If you’re Biden] you want to be an inclusive president, ”Mr. D’Alessandro said. “It’s probably a noble goal. But at the end of the day, you know, how about reaching out and giving us a little something too?
Waleed Shahid, communications director for the progressive group Justice Democrats, said he was relieved that Mr Biden chose former Fed Chairman Janet Yellen for the post of Treasury secretary rather than Lael Brainard, a governor of the Fed who has been described as more of a centrist.
He said there had been a similar reaction to Mr Biden’s selection of Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress think tank as the budget director of Bruce Reed, the president-elect’s former chief of staff who has been criticized by progressive lawmakers as a deficit hawk.
“It’s not the progressive choice, but it’s better than the other option,” Shahid said.
As Mr Biden prepares to announce the rest of his cabinet, progressives see their best hopes in his choices to lead the departments of education, interior, labor, transport and housing and urban development (HUD).
Two progressive African-American women who sit in the House of Representatives are high on their wishlist. Marcia Fudge from Ohio has been in the study for Agriculture and HUD. Karen Bass of California – who was also seen as a potential vice president of Mr. Biden’s vice-presidency – is vying for the HUD position.
The debate over Mr. Biden’s cabinet choices comes as Democratic leaders in Congress deal with accusations of accountability for last month’s declining races, where Democrats lost more than half a dozen seats to the Room that they had reversed in 2018, and failed to do so. resume the Senate.
Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democratic congressman and member of the bipartisan “problem solvers” caucus, said Mr. Biden grappled with the reality that in order to pass legislation “we will have to bring both sides – Republican and Democrat – together “.
At the same time, he added, “Working across the aisle starts in your own party.”
A potential plan for how a Democratic House and Republican Senate could work together under the next administration has been seen in recent days as a bipartisan group of lawmakers tried to create $ 908 billion. Recovery plan.
However, some progressive Democratic lawmakers, including Mr Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have suggested they will not back the plan, which, as of yet, does not include additional stimulus checks.
Tim Ryan, a Democratic congressman from Ohio and former presidential candidate, said some progressive Democrats should accept that Mr. Biden should serve the needs of Republicans.
“Unless we win those two Senate seats in Georgia (second round of elections on January 5), Mitch McConnell will be the leader of the Senate, which means he’s going to move things to the center,” Mr. Ryan.
“We can make a lot of progress, but we also have to recognize that not everyone will get what they want.”