President-elect Joe Biden announced his picks for his senior staff as he continues to assemble the rest of his cabinet.
Many of Biden’s picks previously worked with him during the Obama administration and Obama’s presidential campaigns.
Biden’s choice for Chief of Staff is Ron Klain. Klain was Biden’s first Chief of Staff during the Obama administration and has remained an aide to him ever since. During the Ebola epidemic, Klain oversaw the White House’s response. He was also one of the leading officials behind the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an $800 billion stimulus package during the 2007-2009 recession. Klain served with Biden during the Obama administration, Biden’s time in the Senate, and past presidential campaigns.
Biden’s second Chief of Staff during the Obama administration, Steve Ricchetti, was nominated as a Counselor to the President. He was also a Deputy Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton’s presidency. He owns a lobbying firm, Ricchetti Inc.
One of Biden’s deputy chiefs of staff is Jen O’Malley Dillon, who worked as Biden’s campaign manager this year after she managed Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s unsuccessful run for the presidency. She was the deputy campaign manager for Obama’s run for reelection in 2012 and a battleground states director for Obama’s run in 2008. She also served as the executive director for the Democratic National Committee.
Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond is Biden’s choice for Director of the Office of Public Engagement. Richmond was a national co-chair of Biden’s campaign and the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. He will be giving up his seat in the House of Representatives for the position. Richmond’s role will include outreach to grassroots and advocacy organizations, along with focusing on efforts involving Black Americans and other minority groups.
Mike Donilon is the pick for Senior Adviser to the President. Donilon worked with Biden during his presidential campaign and during Biden’s time as Vice President. He was the chief strategist for the campaign, and was a counselor to Biden under Obama. A media strategist, Donilon oversaw the media aspects of Biden’s campaign, such as television advertising, speechwriting, and polling.
Biden chose Julie Chavez Rodriguez for Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Chavez Rodriguez was Biden’s deputy campaign manager and traveling Chief of Staff to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during her presidential campaign. She worked as the Senior Deputy Director of Public Engagement during Obama’s presidency.
Biden’s picks are notably diverse. O’Malley Dillon is the first woman to manage a successful Democratic presidential campaign and the second woman to manage a successful campaign. Biden included BIPOC officials in his senior staff, such as Cedric Richmond and Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the latter holding the title of the highest-ranking Latina during Biden’s campaign.
Biden also received criticism, specifically from progressive groups, for appointing those who previously worked as lobbyists into his senior staff. Both Klain and Ricchetti have ties to lobbying. Klain worked as a lobbyist for O’Melveny & Myers, a global law firm. A letter from 50 liberal advocacy organizations and several members of the House included a plea for Biden to bar lobbyists and other corporate workers from working in his administration.
As January approaches, Biden will be announcing picks for other positions. The positions Biden’s current picks will fill do not require a confirmation from the Senate.
His choices for other prominent roles, such as Secretary of State, Secretary of Commerce, and Attorney General, will need the Senate’s approval. There is a possibility of Biden’s nominees facing rejection, since each of them will be needing a small number of Republican votes to be appointed.
As of now, the Senate remains under the control of the Republican Party. Two run-off Senate races in Georgia will be determined in January, which will determine which party will officially be in the majority. Not only are Biden’s choices for cabinet secretaries uncertain, but whether or not those nominees will actually be confirmed is up in the air as well.