Biden’s Cabinet Picks: The Most Diverse Cabinet in U.S. History

Photo+by+Andrew+Neel+from+Pexels

Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels

Arun Patel, Online Staff Writer

As of March 23, 21 of President Joseph Biden’s 23 cabinet members have been confirmed. They will become part of the most diverse presidential cabinet in U.S. history. White men make up 32 percent of Biden’s cabinet, women make up 45 percent, and racial minorities form 55 percent of his cabinet. Upper School History Teacher Dr. Michael Kideckel stated, “Biden has built on the work of activists, politicians, and experts before him to build the most diverse cabinet in history, and one that features a very high level of government experience.”

 Biden’s picks began with Jannet Yellen, the Secretary of the Treasury. She became the first woman to hold this position, though being first is not something new to her: she was also the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve. Another first is General Lloyd Austin, currently serving as the Secretary of Defense. He is the first Black person to lead the Pentagon and to be granted a congressional waiver as he retired from active duty only four years ago (three years earlier than the federal law requirement of at least seven years of retirement from active duty as eligibility to serve as Secretary of Defence). Next is Deb Haaland, the first Native-American person to hold the position of Cabinet Secretary, as Secretary of the Interior. Other picks include Xavier Becerra, the first Hispanic person to head the Department of Health and Human Services; Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation, the first openly gay Cabinet Secretary confirmed by Congress; and Alejandro Mayorkas, the first Hispanic and Immigrant to head the Department of Homeland Security. The “firsts” under the Cabinet-level also include Michael Regan, first African-American to head the Environmental Protection Agency; Katherine Tai, the first woman of color to serve as U.S. Trade Representative; Avril Haines, the first woman to serve as National Intelligence Director; and Cecilia Rouse, the first woman to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. The other picks in Biden’s Cabinet are Antony Blinken, Secretary of State; Merrick Garland, Attorney General; Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture; Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce; Marty Walsh, Secretary of Labor; Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development; Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy; Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education; Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Ron Klain, Chief of Staff; Isabel Guzman, Small Business Administrator; Linda Thomas-Greenfield, UN Ambassador; John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate; and Eric Lander, Presidential Science Advisor. 

On Thursday, April 1, Biden held the first Cabinet meeting of his presidency. This Cabinet meeting was different from those of his predecessors, as it was held in the spacious East Room instead of the West Room due to COVID-19 restrictions. When pressed about his new Cabinet, President Biden proclaimed, “[the Cabinet] looks like America.” He also went on to add, “That’s what we promised we were going to do, and we’ve done it.” 

For many, the diversity of the Cabinet has been long-awaited. Out of 15 Cabinet Secretaries, former President Donald Trump’s Cabinet contained 11 cisgender heterosexual white men, and former President Bill Clinton’s had six out of 14. In stark contrast, Biden’s cabinet only has five. While many are praising the president, some critiques are also arising. Dr. Kideckel stated, “Some critics have noted a lack of representation of Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the new cabinet—something Biden says he is addressing with new positions and appointments.” However, Dr. Kideckel then added, “Overall, the increased diversity Biden’s cabinet reflects is important for bringing to the table people who represent a more inclusive array of American experiences.” 

Biden’s Cabinet could not have come at a more pressing time. With the immigration crisis at the Mexican border, serious social justice issues across the country, rising climate temperatures, and ocean levels, all during the ongoing pandemic. Biden’s cabinet picks have a lot of responsibilities, and they must be able to handle their responsibilities and lead with confidence.  

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