For permanent roles, here’s who Biden has chosen for national security, economic policy, and additional Cabinet positions and a range of other posts — including his top White House advisers.
Biden has chosen officials to oversee U.S. intelligence and defense, and spearhead relations with world leaders and international coalitions. All of these officials must be confirmed by the Senate.
Secretary of State
Antony Blinken – Secretary of State
Confirmed by Senate
Announced Nov. 23, 2020
The position: Leads foreign policy, diplomacy for the president around the world.
The nominee: Antony Blinken was deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. Blinken also advised Biden on national security when he was vice president. The two worked together when Biden served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Blinken, 58, has extensive foreign policy experience, serving as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama.
A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, Blinken began his foreign policy career during the Clinton administration. He worked as Democratic staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2002 to 2008, where he worked closely with Biden. He went on to serve as then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser.
Blinken is currently managing partner at WestExec Advisors, a firm he co-founded.
For Biden, choosing Blinken signals a return to a more traditional foreign policy that favors strong international relationships, NPR’s Michele Kelemen says.
Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin – Secretary of Defense
President-elect Joe Biden plans to name Lloyd Austin, the retired U.S. Army four-star general, as his pick for secretary of defense in his incoming administration, two sources familiar with the decision confirmed to NPR.
Austin joins a growing and diverse list of nominees for Biden’s cabinet, which the president-elect has said he wants to reflect the diversity of America. If confirmed, Austin would be the first African American to lead the department.
Austin brings to the table decades of military experience and had previously led the U.S. Central Command.
A third source familiar with the discussions said Biden came to trust Austin and his experience during Situation Room briefings over the years when Austin was head of Centcom.
The source says Austin emerged as the leading candidate over the course of the past week, noting Austin had “broken barriers” during his rise in the military. “He also appreciated that General Austin knows the human costs of war first-hand,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Alejandro Mayorkas -Secretary of Homeland Security
The position: Advises the president on security issues within the United States. In charge of immigration and border-related issues; the Coast Guard; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; counterterrorism; aviation security and cybersecurity.
The nominee: Alejandro Mayorkas was deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security during Obama’s second term. Earlier, he was Obama’s director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2009 to 2013. If confirmed, Mayorkas would be the first immigrant and Latino to hold the position.
Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban American, to head the government agency that oversees immigration issues, the Department of Homeland Security.
Mayorkas, who would be the first Latino and first immigrant to hold that job, previously was the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a DHS agency, during the Obama administration, and then deputy secretary of DHS.
Following the announcement, Mayorkas tweeted, “When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.”
Avril Haines – Director of National Intelligence
The position: Leads the intelligence community across 17 agencies and organizations and advises the president on national security issues.
The nominee: Avril Haines was Obama’s principal deputy national security adviser and deputy director of the CIA. She worked for Biden when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Haines would be the first woman to head national intelligence.
Avril Haines as his director of national intelligence on Monday. Haines, 51, worked with Biden under President Barack Obama and led the Biden transition’s national security and foreign policy team. She served as the White House deputy national security adviser and deputy director of the CIA. She was the first woman to hold both positions.
And now, if confirmed, she will become the first woman to head national intelligence.
In that role, she would oversee the National Intelligence Program, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and advise the president.
Haines has the respect of many in the intelligence community, former CIA Director John Brennan told NPR. Her intelligence career spans over a decade: from the White House to the CIA, the NSC to the Department of State.
“[Haines] is widely respected among intelligence professionals, and her superior intellect, humility and legendary work ethic are deeply admired by the thousands of intelligence officers with whom she worked during the Obama Administration,” said Brennan.
Brennan also said that her varied and extensive intelligence background will help the Biden administration hit the ground running in January.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield – Ambassador to the United Nations
The position: Represents the president at the United Nations. Advises on international affairs.
The nominee: Linda Thomas-Greenfield is a career diplomat with more than three decades of experience. She was the assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs and as the U.S. ambassador to Liberia among many other postings.
Growing up in segregated Louisiana, Linda Thomas-Greenfield says she learned to face adversity. Now, the career diplomat has been tapped to represent the Biden administration at the United Nations in a moment of renewed racial tensions at home.
“My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place,” Thomas-Greenfield wrote on Twitter following Monday’s announcement that she will be nominated to the Cabinet-level job, which requires Senate approval. “I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service — and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations.”
Thomas-Greenfield is a 35-year veteran of the foreign service who oversaw the Bureau of African Affairs during the Obama administration. She has served director general of the foreign service as well as ambassador to Liberia. She has written about the need to rebuild the State Department, which has been hollowed out by the Trump administration.
In a TEDx talk last year, Thomas-Greenfield described her upbringing in the “Deep South … in a segregated town in which the KKK regularly would come on weekends and burn a cross in somebody’s yard.”
Her parents never made it past third and eighth grade, but she went on to study at the Louisiana State University.
“I was entering a hostile environment when I started at LSU. David Duke, the famous former grand wizard of the Klan, was a student on campus and he was preaching the same hatred, anti-Semitism, white supremacy that he preached in Charlottesville, Va., [in 2018],” she said.
Thomas-Greenfield went on to graduate school before entering the foreign service.
Janet Yellen – Secretary of the Treasury
The position: Advises on economic policy and the financial system
The nominee: Janet Yellen was chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018. She was also chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration. Yellen was the first woman to run the Federal Reserve, and if confirmed, would be the first woman to run the Treasury Department.
The United States has had 77 Treasury secretaries in the last 231 years. So far, they’ve all been men.
Yellen would play a leading role in shaping economic policy as the United States continues to dig its way out of the deep hole caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Yellen also made history when she became the first woman to lead the central bank, a tenure that lasted from 2014 to 2018. She was confirmed to that position, winning some support from Senate Republicans.
She was a top White House economist in the Clinton administration as well, and has won praise from progressive Democrats.
“Janet Yellen has absolutely shown a willingness to challenge corporate power and not be intimidated by big banks,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “That is a key ingredient as you rebuild our economy.”
Cecilia Rouse – Chairperson, Council of Economic Advisers
The position: Advises the president on economic policy.
The nominee: Cecilia Rouse is a labor economist and the dean of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. Rouse served as a member of the CEA during the Obama administration and was part of the National Economic Council during the Clinton administration. If confirmed, Rouse would be the first African American to chair the CEA.
Katherine Tai – U.S. Trade Representative
The position: Advises on trade policy and negotiates trade deals.
The nominee: Katherine Tai is the chief trade counsel for the House Committee on Ways and Means. She was previously a senior member of the Office of the General Counsel for the U.S. trade representative during the Obama administration, responsible for China trade enforcement issues. If confirmed, Tai will be the first woman of color to hold this position.
Katherine Tai as U.S. Trade Representative, a source familiar with transition discussions confirms to NPR. The source spoke on condition of anonymity about private conversations.
Biden and his administration prepare to face a drastically different trade landscape than the one Biden last saw as vice president.
Tai’s selection was first reported by Politico.
Tai, who currently works as chief trade counsel on the House Ways and Means Committee, has already received praise from Democrats for her skills and experience.
“Katherine Tai is the most qualified candidate for USTR, and her nomination would reflect President-elect Biden’s commitment to the Dignity of Work,” Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a progressive who is a key voice in the Senate on trade, tweeted.
Source: NPR ( To be Continue)