There are 500 experts working on the transfer of powers, even without the collaboration of the White House or federal agencies. Biden’s choice of chief of staff gives clues about the composition of the future executive.
While it is unknown how long Donald Trump’s sulk will last due to the electoral defeat, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris continue as if they were nothing: they formed the transition team, made up of five hundred experts in the different areas, and the former vice president of Barack Obama made the first appointment. In between, he has spoken to some world leaders, including Pope Francis.
“We are already starting the transition. We are well on our way. The fact that they are not willing to acknowledge that we won is not of great importance”, minimized Joe Biden.
The future White House chief of staff was revealed on Wednesday night and the news was not surprising. It’s Ron Klain, a former Joe Biden advisor with decades of experience in Washington.
“Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years we have worked together, including when we rescued the American economy from one of the worst crises in our history in 2009 and later overcame a frightening public health emergency in 2014,” he said. Biden in a statement. “His deep and varied experience and ability to work with people from across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in the White House chief of staff as we face this moment of crisis and bring our country back together,” he concluded.
Klain, 59, started working with Biden in the Senate in the late 1980s and has a long and recognized track record in top advisory. He was chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore and also to Biden and in addition to having participated in this campaign he was also in the hands of Bill Clinton, Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.
It was by accepting to participate in the former secretary of state’s campaign that Klain moved out of Biden’s orbit and the relationship would have cooled. The counselor accepted Hillary’s invitation when Biden was mourning the death of his son Beau and had not yet decided on an application. But after the Democratic candidate’s defeat, Biden and Klain got together and overcame any hurts.
Klain, who also prepared the debates for the aforementioned presidential candidates, returned to the White House during Obama’s second term as coordinator of the Ebola response.
Klain’s choice sets the tone for what Biden wants for his presidency: experience, reliability and security, the opposite of what Donald Trump’s mandate was.
According to the Washington Post, the White House’s internal structure will once again have a single head, although it is surrounded by senior officials who also have direct relations with the president. And the bet on these top positions should fall on Mike Donilon, one of the authors of Biden’s campaign strategy, and Steve Ricchetti, the campaign’s director, according to sources confided to the Post.
Diverse and prepared team
Prior to this appointment, Joe Biden made the transition team known on the Build Back Better page. There are 500 people, experts in the most diverse areas, from the environment to space, from economy to national security, whose mission is to gather information about each department and respective agencies, in terms of human resources, guidelines, and technical and technological resources. so that each secretary and other appointed staff (some 4000 people) is prepared from day one.
Not a few experts have worked in the Barack Obama administration, although that was not the criterion, but the curriculum in the area of specialization. There is also a concern with gender equality and ethnic diversity in these specialists, who, in the vast majority, volunteered for the task. This voluntarism, in some cases, will have its reward. It is common for a part of this team to be part of the new administration.
It is up to the Federal Agency for the Administration of General Services (GSA) to signal the “apparent victory” of a candidate so that he has funds (almost 10 million dollars this year) and physical access to departments, agencies, and security access and email accounts. , secure phone lines, and translators for phone calls from the elected duo to leaders in the rest of the world. It is also customary for the president-elect to receive reports from the secret services.
But GSA administrator Emily Murphy, appointed by Donald Trump, is said to have been advised not to proceed with the bureaucratic transfer of power.
Result: unable to deal directly with staff on duty, members of the transition team are working through informal channels to find out what’s going on in the administration, collecting public information on Congressional committees, and talking to other experts, but mainly with former employees of federal agencies, a source, since the Trump administration was marked by a constant come-and-go.
“We may not be making formal contact, but the transition work continues to proceed at full speed,” said a team member of five hundred people.
Betting season open
Given the starting shot with the appointment of the chief of staff, and set the tone with that choice and with the profile of the transition team, bets are already made on who will form the government team.
In 2008, when Barack Obama wins the elections, he is faced with the enormous financial and economic crisis that had worldwide proportions. To give a signal that this would be his priority, the first appointment was that of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, a name beyond suspicion. This time the priority should be Health, due to the pandemic. For the Department of Health, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who spared no effort in the fight against the coronavirus, competes with North Carolina’s Secretary of Health, doctor Mandy Cohen.
But the economic consequences of the pandemic also require extra care in the economic team. The favoritism for the Treasury secretary goes to Lael Brainard, 58 years old. The current Federal Reserve governor combines political experience (she was Bill Clinton’s adviser, Under Secretary of State, Under Secretary of the Treasury with the portfolio of International Affairs during the Obama administration) and technical. It is well regarded among Democrats and has a profile that should not cause problems in confirmation by the Senate – if it continues with a Republican majority. If confirmed, Brainard will make history as the first woman in the office.
But there are more women on the list: ex-candidate and senator Elizabeth Warren, businesswoman Mellody Hobson, former Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen, and former Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin. On the male side, two names: Roger Ferguson and Raphael Bostic, this being the first African-American to head a regional Federal Reserve, Atlanta in this case.
The State Department has a thorny mission to contribute to the reconstruction of bridges with allies and to keep opponents and enemies at a safe distance. Susan Rice, 55, stands as a successor to Mike Pompeo. In the weeks before Kamala Harris was chosen as a vice-presidential candidate, Susan Rice gained preponderance on the part of some groups in Washington. Rice did not hide the desire to be part of Joe Biden’s team, in what would be a reunion. While Biden was Obama’s deputy, Rice was a national security adviser. He already knew the songs for the White House, since he worked there between 1993 and 2001, under Bill Clinton.
However, Rice was the victim of a campaign by Republicans following the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a topic that could make it difficult to confirm if the Senate remains in Republican hands. Other options for the post include Senators Chris Coons and Chris Murphy.
The post of national security adviser is expected to be named Anthony Blinken, another longtime adviser to Joe Biden. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration and became Obama’s undersecretary of state.
In Defense, another woman can make history and take the reins: Michèlle Flournoy. It was Hillary Clinton’s choice and everything indicates that she is in pole position to win the race. Flournoy, who was number 3 in the Pentagon during the Obama administration, advocates a “global review” of troop deployment, and has spoken out against the announced departure of thousands of American soldiers from Germany. Flournoy also defends a tough position in relation to China and a bet on new technologies.
Another hypothesis for the Pentagon is Senator Tammy Duckworth, the veteran who lost both legs of the war in Iraq. It was given as a possible number 2 by Biden. It is a criticism of Trump, in particular of his relationship with Vladimir Putin. Tammy Duckworth is also mentioned for the position of Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Former candidate and senator Bernie Sanders, says the New York Times, would like to be secretary of the Department of Labor, having already discussed this possibility with Joe Biden.
Other names spoken for the position are Julie Su, who holds the position at the state level in California, Michigan representative Andy Levin and Obama’s former Under-Secretary of Labor Seth Harris.
For Housing, the chances that the job will go to an African American are high, if you believe the favorites lists: Congresswoman Karen Bass and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (both were on the list of possible vice presidents), but also Maurice Jones, who worked in the department at the time of Obama, and former Jacksonville mayor Alvin Brown.
It should also be noted that Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, other former candidates in the Democratic primaries, are also on the lists of potential members of the administration. The first is the US ambassador to the United Nations, the second as secretary of agriculture.