The first native woman in the cabinet, the first gay as federal minister, the first woman in finance, the first black at the top of the Pentagon: the new US President Biden and his government team are breaking through some historical barriers.
Washington (AP) – With Kamala Harris, for the first time in the history of the United States, a woman and a black woman are promoted to the office of Vice President. Future US President Joe Biden promised early on that he would take the diversity of society into account when composing his cabinet. “My government will look like America,” he promised. There is a lot of catching up to do in the US in this regard. An overview of the planned filling of the most important cabinet positions – with a few premieres. Biden’s candidates must all be approved by the Senate.
MINISTRY OF FINANCE
The history of the US Treasury goes back more than 230 years – and never has a woman been at the top. Biden wants JANET YELLEN (74) to take over the ministry, which will play a key role in view of the severely troubled US economy as a result of the corona pandemic. Yellen was President of the US Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018. The economist has spoken out in favor of combating the crisis – which she describes as an “American tragedy” – not only with monetary policy, but also with fiscal policy support measures. She is a supporter of the theories of the economist John Maynard Keynes, according to which governments play an important role in overcoming economic crises – for example through higher government spending.
With his longtime advisor ANTONY BLINKEN (58), Biden wants to say goodbye to Donald Trump’s foreign policy “America First” doctrine, return to the international negotiating table and involve allies more closely in the decisions of the USA. Blinken is a proponent of multilateral cooperation. In his youth he lived with his family in Paris and graduated from school there. He was Biden’s National Security Advisor from 2009 to 2013, when he was Vice President Barack Obama. Blinken was Deputy Secretary of State from 2015 to 2017. Blinken began his career in the State Department during the Bill Clinton administration.
MINISTRY OF HOME PROTECTION
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS is set to become the first Latino and immigrant to serve as Minister of Homeland Security. The 61-year-old lawyer was born in Cuba’s capital Havana; his parents left the country a little later after Fidel Castro came to power. In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security is responsible for internal security – comparable to the Home Departments in Europe. It plays a central role, among other things, in dealing with illegal immigration on the border with Mexico and with people who are in the country without papers. Trump took a hard line on immigration. Mayorkas was a California attorney and vice secretary of homeland security during Obama’s second term.
It was a long time before Biden settled on a candidate to lead the powerful Pentagon. He finally decided on the former four-star general LLOYD AUSTIN (67), who, if confirmed, would be the country’s first black defense minister. Up until his retirement in 2016, Austin was the commander of the US armed forces stationed in the Middle East and was therefore responsible for operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan – areas of conflict that are still not pacified. At the beginning of his more than 40-year career in the US military, he was also deployed in Germany. Since it was not long enough since his active service in the military, Austin needs an exemption from Congress to become a minister.
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
The fact that Biden MERRICK GARLAND (68) wants to make attorney general was reported on the day of the storming of the US Capitol by Trump supporters. Obama had designated the judge for the Supreme Court in 2016, but the Republicans blocked the appointment in the Senate. Biden describes Garland as “one of the most respected lawyers of our time,” who is brilliant but humble. The left wing of the Democratic Party had hoped for a more political candidate for the post. Considered relatively independent, Garland has promised to embrace the principle of equality before the law and made addressing the threat of violent extremism a priority.
MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT
Biden has chosen the Democrats’ shooting star, PETE BUTTIGIEG, as Minister of Transport. It is not the most prestigious area, but it is likely to gain importance in view of the expected major investments in infrastructure. The 38-year-old has made a steep climb. So far, he has no political experience at the federal level. Until the end of 2019 he was mayor of South Bend, a city of 100,000 in the US state of Indiana, for eight years. When he ran as a Democratic presidential candidate and worked his way up among the competition, he became known at the national level. Buttigieg served in the Navy, was deployed in Afghanistan and speaks seven other languages in addition to English. He is said to be the first openly gay minister to sit in the cabinet – and one of the youngest cabinet members in the country’s history.
MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR
There is also a premiere in the interior department. With DEB HAALAND, a native American woman is supposed to move up into the cabinet for the first time. The 60-year-old was among the first two women to be elected as indigenous Americans to the US House of Representatives in 2018. There she sits on the Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the Ministry of the Interior. “My life was not easy,” said Haaland when she was introduced to the Biden team in December. She was temporarily homeless, needed state food aid and raised her daughter on her own. In the USA, the Department of the Interior is primarily responsible for the administration of the federally owned land, but also for affairs for the approximately 1.9 million indigenous people.