US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday picked Obama-era officials for top national security and economic roles, signaling a shift from the Trump administration’s “America First” policies that disparaged international alliances.
Biden named former Secretary of State John Kerry as special climate envoy, a sign that Biden is putting the issue at the center of his foreign policy.
Kerry, whose appointment does not require US Senate confirmation, will have a seat on the National Security Council in the White House, the transition team said, marking the first time an official in that body will be dedicated to the climate issue.
“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” Kerry said. “I’m proud to partner with the president-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the president’s climate envoy.”
Biden has pledged to reverse course on climate from President Donald Trump, who doubts mainstream climate science. Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate, and dismantled Obama-era climate and environmental regulations to boost drilling, mining and manufacturing.
Kerry was one of several people named for top positions by the Biden transition team.
Other key picks included long-time Biden aide Antony Blinken as secretary of state, while reports say former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will be the choice for treasury secretary, a pivotal role in which she would help shape and direct his economic policies at a perilous time.
Yellen, who is widely admired in the financial world, would be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department in a line stretching back to Alexander Hamilton in 1789.
The incoming president will also nominate lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary and Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations. Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, will be nominated as director of national intelligence, the first woman to hold that post.
Thomas-Greenfield is Black, and Mayorkas is Cuban American.
They “are experienced, crisis-tested leaders who are ready to hit the ground running on day one,” the transition said in a statement. “These officials will start working immediately to rebuild our institutions, renew and reimagine American leadership to keep Americans safe at home and abroad, and address the defining challenges of our time — from infectious disease, to terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats, and climate change.”
Biden’s emerging Cabinet marks a return to a more traditional approach to governing, relying on veteran policymakers with deep expertise and strong relationships in Washington and global capitals. And with a roster that includes multiple women and people of color — some of whom are breaking historic barriers in their posts — Biden is fulfilling his campaign promise to lead a team that reflects the diversity of America.
Rita Osakwe/Agency Reports