Several of President-elect Joe Biden‘s nominees would make history if confirmed by the United States Senate to serve in top roles in his incoming administration.
Since winning the election, Biden has made moves to carry out his campaign promise of building an administration that looks like and reflects the diversity of America. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has already shattered a monumental barrier by becoming the first woman elected Vice President.
Here are other people who would be historic firsts:
First Black Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo
Adeyemo currently serves as the president of the Obama Foundation. Adeyemo served during the Obama administration as the President’s senior international economic adviser, and also served as deputy national security adviser, deputy director of the National Economic Council, the first chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and senior adviser and deputy chief of staff at the Department of the Treasury.
First Black Secretary of Defense
Austin would make history as the first Black person to lead the Pentagon if confirmed by the Senate. Austin is a retired Army general and is the former commander of the US Central Command. He has worked closely with Biden in the past. While Biden was vice president, Austin served as the vice chief of staff of the Army and commanding general of US forces in Iraq, and later the commander of CENTCOM. Biden and Austin had discussions on a range of issues, including those in the Middle East and Central and South Asia. Austin would need a congressional waiver to be confirmed for the civilian post because federal law requires seven years of retirement from active duty before taking on the role. Austin retired from active-duty service only four years ago.
First Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services
Becerra would be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services if confirmed by the Senate. He currently serves as California’s attorney general, and is the first Latino to hold that office in the history of the state. Becerra has been a chief defender of the Affordable Care Act in court. As the Trump administration and a coalition of Republican state attorneys general fight to invalidate the landmark health reform law, Becerra has led a group of Democratic attorneys general arguing why the law remains valid. Becerra served 12 terms in Congress as a member of the US House of Representatives and held several leadership posts. He was the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the ranking member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. He was also the first Latino to serve as a member of the Ways and Means Committee. Becerra also served one term in the California Legislature and is a former deputy attorney general with the California Department of Justice.
First Hispanic American White House Social Secretary
Elizondo was a special assistant to the president and social secretary to the Bidens for all eight years of the Obama administration. He will be the first Hispanic American appointed to this position. During the Clinton administration, Elizondo served in both the White House and in the Office of the US Chief of Protocol.
First woman to lead the US intelligence community
Haines would become the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence. Haines served as assistant to the president and principal deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama. She chaired the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, which is responsible for formulating the administration’s national security and foreign policy. Haines previously served as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Avril was also legal adviser to the NSC. She served as deputy chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while Biden served as chairman.
First Latino and immigrant as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Mayorkas would be the first Latino and immigrant as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security if confirmed by the Senate. He was deputy secretary of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, and served as the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. While at USCIS, Mayorkas oversaw the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was an executive action under Obama that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation. President Donald Trump moved to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2017 but was ultimately blocked by the Supreme Court from doing so.
First woman of color to chair the Council of Economic Advisers
Rouse would be the first woman of color to chair the Council of Economic Advisers if confirmed by the Senate. Rouse has served as the dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, as well as a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. Rouse previously served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. She also worked at the National Economic Council in the Clinton administration as a special assistant to the president.
First woman of color and first South Asian American as Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Tanden would be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to become director of the Office of Management and Budget. Tanden is the CEO and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, and is the CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Tanden previously served in the Obama and Clinton administrations. She was a senior adviser for health reform at the US Department of Health and Human Services, and also served as the director of domestic policy for the Obama campaign. She was the policy director for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign, and worked in Clinton’s Senate office.
First woman as Treasury Secretary
Yellen would make history as the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary. Yellen already made history as the first woman to have chaired the Federal Reserve, and did so from 2014 to 2018. She previously served for four years as the vice chair of the board, and president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco for four years prior to that. Yellen was also chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers from 1997 to 1999.
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