President-elect Joe Biden builds his administration with several key choices for national security and foreign policy roles.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry will lead the incoming administration’s efforts to combat climate change. Alejandro Mayorkas will be appointed Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Biden also plans to nominate Antony Blinken as its secretary of state, according to several people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.
Blinken, 58, was Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Council during the Obama administration and has close ties to Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming government’s attempt to reformulate the United States’ relationship with the rest of the world after four years of President Donald Trump questioning long-standing alliances.
Biden is making progress with plans to fill his government even though Trump refuses to concede defeat, has sought unfounded legal challenges in several key states and has worked to stimulate the transition process. Efforts for a smooth transition are particularly high this year as Biden will be among the worst pandemics in more than a century, which is likely to require a full government response to contain.
By nominating Blinken, Biden would circumvent potentially thorny issues that could have affected the Senate’s confirmation of two other candidates on his shortlist to become America’s best diplomat: Susan Rice and Senator Chris Coons.
Rice would have faced significant GOP opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. She has long been a target for Republicans, including for statements she made following the deadly attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.
Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lacked the detailed experience of dealing with the day-to-day foreign policy issues that Blinken would bring to the job.
Biden is likely to name his cabinet choices in parts where groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, such as economics, national security or public health, are announced directly. Advisers to the election of the president-elect have said they will make their first cabinet announcements on Tuesday.
If Biden focuses on national security that day, Michèle Flournoy, a veteran of the Pentagon’s political job, is the best choice to lead the Department of Defense. Jake Sullivan, a longtime adviser to Biden and Hillary Clinton, is also in the mix for a top job, including the White House National Security Adviser.
For his part, Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and has publicly weighed in on important foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.
Impoverished labor from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Biden’s Secretary of State would inherit a deeply demoralized and impoverished career staff at the State Department. Trump’s two secretary of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak opposition to the government’s attempt to gut the agency, which was only thwarted by congressional intervention.
Although the department avoided massive proposed cuts of more than 30% in its budget for three years in a row, it has seen a significant number of departures from its higher and rising average levels, from which many diplomats have chosen to retire or leave the alien. services with limited prospects for progress during an administration that they consider do not value their expertise.
A degree from Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a long-standing democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has adapted to many previous national security authorities who have demanded a major reinvestment in US diplomacy and a renewed emphasis on global engagement.
“Democracy is retreating around the world, and unfortunately it is also retreating at home because the president takes a two-four to his institutions, its values and its people every day,” Blinken told the Associated Press in September. “Our friends know that Joe Biden knows who they are. So do our opponents. That difference would be felt on day one. ”
Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming chief of staff to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden chaired the panel. During the first years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then Vice President Biden’s National Security Adviser before moving to the State Department to serve as Deputy Secretary of State John Kerry.
Biden is also expected to use the long-standing diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the US ambassador to the UN.
The Trump administration is still blocking the transition
Biden has promised to build the most versatile government in modern history, and he and his team often talk about their desire for his administration to reflect America. He is being monitored to see if he will make history by nominating the first woman to head the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs or the first African American to head the Department of Defense, Home Office or Treasury Department.
Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said on Sunday that the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to gain access to important information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition takes its toll on planning, including the cabinet’s selection process. The Trump General Services Administration has not yet acknowledged that Biden won the election – a determination that would remove those barriers.
“We are not in a position to carry out background checks on cabinet candidates. And then there are definite effects. These effects are escalating every day, Klain told ABC’s “This Week.”
Even some Republicans have broken with Trump in recent days, urging him to begin the transition. Joining the growing list were Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a longtime Trump supporter, told ABC it was time for the president to stop challenging the result, calling Trump’s legal team trying to overthrow the election a “national embarrassment.”
At the same time, a pandemic-modified inauguration was planned for 20 January. Klain said the Biden team consulted with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate on their plans.
“They will try to have an inauguration that honors the meaning and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but which also does not lead to the spread of the disease. That is our goal, said Klain.