‘Tis the season to be thankful, and I am so incredibly grateful to see the experienced, seasoned, (and frankly interesting!), people Joe Biden is nominating to his Cabinet. Today, I wanted to take a peek at four of the recent nominations along with a call to action.
Secretary of State – Tony Blinken
Who had this position under Trump? Rex Tillerson, Mike Pompeo (plus 2 acting)
Hillary Clinton, our former SoS, had this to say about Blinken: “Tony Blinken is a dedicated public servant who will make an incredibly effective secretary of state.”
Blinken’s late step-father, survived the Holocaust in Poland as a child. He managed to escape from a death march and when he encountered a U.S. Army tank, “said the only 3 English words his mother had taught him…God bless America.” He later became an American citizen.
On every major foreign policy issue — terrorism, climate, pandemics, trade, China, the Iran nuclear deal — he has a recurring mantra: the U.S. should work with its allies and within international treaties and organizations. Blinken also views U.S. leadership in multilateral institutions as essential. “There is a premium still, and in some ways even more than before, on American engagement, on American leadership,” (Source)
Want to learn more? Pod Save America interviewed Blinken right before the election about what Joe Biden’s foreign policy might look like, should he win. (How prophetic of them!)
Bonus: Blinken has a sense of humor! He said this when he made his first remarks after being nominated, “I ask forgiveness for my insatiable appetite for bad puns.” He also plays guitar (here are his two songs on Spotify), and was on Sesame Street once to explain what refugees are to Grover.
Director of National Intelligence – Avril Haines
Who had this position under Trump? Dan Coats, John Ratcliffe (plus 3 acting)
Haines is a former deputy chief of the CIA, deputy national security adviser and deputy chief counsel to Senate Democrats. She would be the first woman to lead the intelligence community.
Signaling a major shift from the current administration, she said this at the press conference announcing her nomination: “Mr. President-elect…I know that you have selected us not to serve YOU, but to work on behalf of the American people — to help advance our security, prosperity & values.”
“Rebuilding morale and recruiting and retaining top talent will undoubtedly be a focus for our new DNI as Trump pushed out career officials and insulted intelligence analysis. Based on her reputation, leadership capabilities, intelligence and character, Haines is up to that task.” (Source)
Bonus: She has studied theoretical physics, flies planes, and is a brown belt in judo.
Secretary of Homeland Security – Alejandro “Ali” Mayorkas
Who had this position under Trump? John Kelly, Kirstjen Nielsen (plus 3 acting)
Mayorkas served as both the DHS deputy secretary and the director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, an immigration agency within the department, where he was integral to the implementation of DACA. If confirmed by the Senate, he would the first Latino to run Homeland Security.
A Cuban-born immigrant, he said this at the press conference announcing his nomination: “We are a country of welcome.”
“He’s a great choice. He has strong law enforcement credentials, he will hit the ground running and he prioritizes good policy above good politics.” (Source)
U.N. Ambassador – Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Who had this position under Trump? Nikki Haley, Kelly Craft (plus 2 acting)
Biden is returning the job of U.N. Ambassador to cabinet-level status, giving Thomas-Greenfield a seat on his National Security Council.
In her In her 35-year tenure at the State Department, Thomas-Greenfield served as the director general of the Foreign Service, held an ambassadorship in Nigeria among other postings all over the world, and was the top diplomat in the Bureau of African Affairs. In 2017, she was ousted by the Trump administration.
“Just having a Black woman heading the transition and likely heading the US mission in New York is a big deal. And to have it be a Black woman who was fired by Trump, that’s even more of a statement.” (Source)
“My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. 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.”
Want to learn more? Watch her TED Talk!
What we can do
I’ve already seen multiple articles speculating how the Senate, if the Republicans retain the majority, will treat Biden’s nominations. I’ve seen everything from they’re going to obstruct every candidate to them not giving Biden much trouble as long as his picks are “mainstream.” Now I’m not in D.C., but I cannot imagine a world where Mitch McConnell is Majority Leader and doesn’t cause Biden massive confirmation headaches, can you?
(Quick plug — How do we prevent McConnell from being Majority Leader in the 117th Congress? By winning the two Georgia Senate runoff elections on January 5th. Read THIS to find a myriad of ways for you to get involved right away in these critical races! Ok, back to our regularly scheduled program.)
Do you all remember what we did at the start of the Trump administration in early 2017? We FLOODED Senate offices with phone calls imploring our Senators to reject Trump’s awful Cabinet nominees. No Senator was safe from our calls and we made life miserable for them. Now, I want you to imagine how angry Trump voters are for losing the White House. We should absolutely expect them to give our Senators a lot of grief at the start of the Biden administration.
Which means, that we need to get ready to call our Senators daily once again to make sure that we expect them to confirm Biden’s choices. The last thing we want is our Senators hearing a ton from angry Republicans constituents while hearing crickets from us. That would be bad.
To wrap this up, I’m excited to see that expertise and competence will once again be returning to the federal government, and hope you are, too. We worked hard to get to this point, and we’ll need to vocally support these choices in the new year. When that time comes, I’ll be sure to write about how, exactly, we can all help.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!