Biden’s Obama-era Cupboard picks frustrate liberals, civil rights leaders

Taken together, these concerns put focus on the challenges Biden faces as he tries to unite the party around his ambitious agenda and immediately staff his administration. Party’s grassroots and lawmakers’ dissatisfaction not reading into the president-elect’s decisions could affect Biden’s ability to quickly position his candidates so he can address urgent priorities such as responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Of the 14 picks announced so far at cabinet level, seven are women and nine are black people. But Biden also mostly picked people he’d known for years or even decades. The average age of Biden’s previous department heads is 63, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. About 80 percent of the White House and Agency officials he announced have the word “Obama” on their résumés from previous jobs in the White House or in the Obama campaign, the analysis says.

Some of them will play roles similar to those in the last administration.

Tom Vilsack – Secretary of Agriculture for all eight years of President Barack Obama’s tenure – will resume that role under Biden if confirmed. Vivek H. Murthy, who was Obama’s surgeon general, will have the same job for Biden. The new White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, served as Vice President for Biden in the same capacity.

“We cannot go in a new direction with the same people, including some people responsible for the chaos we find ourselves in,” said Evan Weber, the political director of the Sunrise Movement, a liberal group that deals with climate issues deals. “We would like to see more young progressives in roles in the Biden administration.”

Weber and other liberals say they don’t believe that Obama, who took office with his party, which controlled both houses of Congress, took bold steps on issues ranging from climate to banking rules.

And while Biden’s team is racially diverse, some observers note that Biden relies on older Black and Hispanic leaders who may not understand the needs and priorities of a younger generation.

“There are more color dates, but there are a lot of the same old, same old,” said Sayu Bhojwani, an immigration activist and president of New American Leaders, a group that advocates diversity among elected leaders. “Having voices of colors that were raised in a system that wasn’t designed for people with color means that we don’t get innovations and people who are risk averse because they know the system. ”

Biden’s bias against government veterans stems from his view that the Trump administration has turned the country significantly off track, that deep expertise will be required to restore it, and a feeling that, according to transitional aid speaking about the condition, there is no time anonymity remains for a learning curve to discuss internal considerations.

And the focus on Obama-era candidates could have advantages, some argue, and create an automatic cohesion in Biden’s team. “This is the mother-of-all alumni group,” said Reed Hundt, who worked on the Obama transition and is the author of “A Crisis Wasted” about decisions made during this period to respond to the great recession .

In contrast, many members of the Obama economic team or the then president did not know each other very well at the beginning. As a result, key players learned to work together and determine how best to work with the president as they were also trying to solve a major economic crisis.

Biden’s commitment to the hill has also worried some allies, who say the lack of consultation has often taken top senators by surprise and made them get on the same page with a candidate for administration with a prominent election. In particular, the lack of attention given by the senior Democrats on the committees was noteworthy as this Senator stands ready to be the candidate’s main defender during the confirmatory battle against Republican attacks.

For example, the transition has never reached Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Über Biden’s decision to win Neera Tanden as director of the Office of Administration and Budget, a person who is familiar with the lack of communication despite Sander’s role as Top -Democrat on one of the committees that will be holding Tanden’s confirmation hearings. Sander’s office declined to comment.

And while Senator Jack Reed (DR.I.), who was convinced in 2017 that he would never again support the renunciation of a law to maintain civilian rule in the Pentagon, was informed of Biden’s decision, the recently retired General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense, one person said the discussion was rather superficial – a surprise given Reed’s final remarks nearly four years ago.

Biden’s decision left Reed, the Democrats chief executive on defense, in an uncomfortable position as he tried to reconcile his earlier statements on the waiver and the fact that the election of the president-elect as Secretary of Defense would need one, which one intended policy meant a one-time exception in a pattern installing recently retired military leaders in the Pentagon.

A transitional official said Biden’s team, in addition to consulting lawmakers, is attempting to notify Congress ahead of the cabinet announcements and to notify their offices within hours of the news being released. Senior congressional assistants also said that while they believed Biden could better reach out to the Democratic senators, they realized that the transition officials were in some way bound because the majority of the Senate remains in the air.

Aides also said the transition’s consultations and notifications were limited because Biden’s team appeared to be concerned about leaks. A congressional official said “they keep things reasonably close” when it came to Biden’s nomination decisions.

Incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the process on Friday, saying that there had been “hundreds of engagements” between transition officials and congressional officials as part of the confirmation process.

For example, before choosing Janet L. Yellen as his Treasury Secretary, Biden’s team asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s best allies for input. This was a delicate process as the Massachusetts Democrat and one of Biden’s opponents in the presidential primaries hoped she’d be the one chosen for the role.

Senator Mark R. Warner (Va.), The top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, shared with interim officials his views on who should be won as director of national intelligence, a spokeswoman said – a slot that ultimately went to Avril Haines.

A spokeswoman for Senator Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), The top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee, said she was notified prior to the announcement that Biden intended to ask Vilsack to repeat his role.

“President-elect Biden’s team has been incredibly responsive and in close contact about the process and my priorities,” said Senator Ron Wyden (Ore.), The top Democrat on the influential Finance Committee that administers endorsements for top cabinet positions that the Health oversee care, fiscal policy and trade. “Biden chooses his team. I did not expect to be expressly asked to cancel. “

Comments are closed.