President-elect Joe Biden announced his picks for his communications and economic staff, showcasing a diverse group of former associates.
Biden named Kate Bedingfield as his White House communications director. Bedingfield was Biden’s communications director when he was Vice President, and she served in the same role throughout his presidential campaign.
The communications director for coalitions throughout Biden’s campaign, Pili Tobar, will be deputy White House communications director. Tobar was also a press staffer for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and the deputy director for immigration reform advocacy group America’s Voice.
Jen Psaki will be Biden’s press secretary. She was a White House communications director and a spokesperson for the State Department.
The title of principal deputy press secretary will go to Karine Jean Pierre, who was chief of staff to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. During the Obama administration, Pierre was a regional political director for the White House office of political affairs. She is also the Chief Public Affairs Officer for MoveOn, a progressive policy group.
Harris’s communications staff includes Ashley Etienne as her communications director, and Symone Sanders as a senior adviser and chief spokesperson. Etienne was a senior adviser for strategic planning under Biden’s campaign and a communications director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Sanders was national press secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign. She became senior adviser for Biden’s campaign.
Biden’s senior communications staff will be entirely comprised of women, a feat his transition team says has never been done before.
Biden took large steps towards diverse representation in the federal government with his nominees for his economic team.
For treasury secretary, Biden nominated Janet Yellen. Yellen was the former chairwoman of the Federal Reserve and was Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton. If confirmed, Yellen would be the first woman to serve in this position.
Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo was nominated for deputy treasury secretary. Along with being an attorney, Adeyemo was a former senior international economic adviser during the Obama administration. Born in Nigeria, he would be the first Black deputy Treasury secretary if confirmed.
For director of Office Management and Budget, Biden nominated Neera Tanden, who could be the first woman of color and first South Asian-American to lead the budget office. She was a former senior policy adviser for President Obama’s campaign, along with Hillary Clinton’s. Tanden is also president of Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank.
Tanden’s nomination already raised opposition from Republicans. A spokesperson for Sen. John Cornyn, a senior Republican senator for Texas, tweeted that Tanden “stands zero chance of being confirmed.”
An adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Josh Holmes, tweeted that her confirmation was “doomed,” as Republicans still have a majority in the current Senate.
Tanden received criticism from progressives as well, specifically people who worked with Sen. Sanders during his presidential campaign. Sanders previously wrote a letter to the Center for American Progress in April 2019, saying that the group was “maligning [his] staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas.” Sanders has not publicly addressed Tanden’s nomination.
Cecilia Rouse was nominated as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. She is an economist at Princeton University. Rouse would be the first woman of color to lead the Council upon confirmation.
Biden also named Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey as his nominees as members of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.