Updated on Jan. 18 at 11:11 a.m. ET
Source: NPR-Eleanor Moore/Audrey Carlson
President-elect Joe Biden has assembled his inner circle of advisers and Cabinet officials ahead of Inauguration Day. Now, he's waiting on Congress to confirm his nominees — particularly those involved in key national security and economic positions.
The Senate has scheduled hearings for five key officials on Jan. 19, the day before Biden takes office: retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin for defense secretary, Janet Yellen for the Treasury, Alejandro Mayorkas for Homeland Security, Antony Blinken for the State Department and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.
It's unclear how quickly the Senate will hold votes on Biden's picks. So in the meantime, he plans to put a group of career officials in place as acting heads of agencies until the Senate confirms his Cabinet.
Biden is running behind. President Trump had two Cabinet members confirmed by Inauguration Day in 2017, while former President Barack Obama had six.
Biden has chosen officials to oversee U.S. intelligence and defense, and spearhead relations with world leaders and international coalitions. All of these officials must be confirmed by the Senate.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Leads foreign policy, diplomacy for the president around the world.
The nominee: Antony Blinken was deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. Blinken also advised Biden on national security when he was vice president. The two worked together when Biden served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Secretary of Defense Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises the president on national defense and oversees the U.S. military.
The nominee: Lloyd Austin is a retired U.S. Army four-star general who served in the military for 41 years. From 2013 until 2016, he was head of U.S. Central Command. If confirmed, Austin will be the first African American secretary of defense.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises the president on security issues within the United States. In charge of immigration and border-related issues; the Coast Guard; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; counterterrorism; aviation security and cybersecurity.
The nominee: Alejandro Mayorkas was deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security during Obama's second term. Earlier, he was Obama's director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2009 to 2013. If confirmed, Mayorkas would be the first immigrant and Latino to hold the position.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Leads the intelligence community across 17 agencies and organizations and advises the president on national security issues.
The nominee: Avril Haines was Obama's principal deputy national security adviser and deputy director of the CIA. She worked for Biden when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Haines would be the first woman to head national intelligence.
Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Represents the president at the United Nations. Advises on international affairs.
The nominee: Linda Thomas-Greenfield is a career diplomat with more than three decades of experience. She was the assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs and as the U.S. ambassador to Liberia among many other postings.
As the U.S. continues to fight through a recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Biden has made picks to lead his economic, financial and trade policy. These positions must be confirmed by the Senate.
Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on economic policy and the financial system
The nominee: Janet Yellen was chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018. She was also chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration. Yellen was the first woman to run the Federal Reserve, and if confirmed, would be the first woman to run the Treasury Department.
Chairperson, Council of Economic Advisers Cecilia Rouse-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises the president on economic policy.
The nominee: Cecilia Rouse is a labor economist and the dean of Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs. Rouse served as a member of the CEA during the Obama administration and was part of the National Economic Council during the Clinton administration. If confirmed, Rouse would be the first African American to chair the CEA.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on trade policy and negotiates trade deals.
The nominee: Katherine Tai is the chief trade counsel for the House Committee on Ways and Means. She was previously a senior member of the Office of the General Counsel for the U.S. trade representative during the Obama administration, responsible for China trade enforcement issues. If confirmed, Tai will be the first woman of color to hold this position.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on trade policy, collects economic data, oversees the census, the National Weather Service and NOAA.
The nominee: Gina Raimondo is governor of Rhode Island. Earlier in her career, she founded a venture capital firm and was the state's general treasurer. Raimondo has focused on workplace training, small business loans and clean energy during her two terms as governor.
Chief of Small Business Administration Isabel Guzman-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Provides assistance to small businesses.
The nominee: Isabel Guzman is director of California's Office of the Small Business Advocate. She was a senior official at the Small Business Administration during the Obama administration. Earlier in her career, she was an adviser at ProAmérica Bank.
Additional members of Biden's Cabinet
Biden will overhaul departments to remove President Trump's appointees and nominate officials to carry out his policy agenda. These officials require Senate confirmation.
Attorney General Merrick Garland-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Top legal official in the federal government. Advises the White House on legal and judicial matters.
The nominee: Merrick Garland is a federal appeals court judge. During his career inside the Justice Department, he oversaw the prosecution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Garland for the Supreme Court, but Senate Republicans did not give his nomination a hearing.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on health policy. Oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, among other divisions.
The nominee: Xavier Becerra is California's attorney general and a former congressman. He led a coalition of states in a legal defense of the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Becerra will be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on housing policy, focused on improving housing affordability and accessibility. Oversees mortgage and loan insurance through the Federal Housing Administration.
The nominee: U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio has served in the House of Representatives since 2008 and is a member of several committees. She is a past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Fudge is also a former mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on food production and agricultural issues and oversees food assistance programs.
The nominee: Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, was secretary of agriculture during both terms of the Obama administration. Since then, he has been CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on federal government services for veterans, including health care and financial and educational benefits.
The nominee: Denis McDonough was chief of staff to former President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017 and previously was Obama's principal deputy national security adviser. Earlier, he was a senior staff member in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on workplace wage and safety policies.
The nominee: Marty Walsh is serving his second term as mayor of Boston. Previously, he served in the Massachussets House of Representatives. Earlier, he was a union president. Walsh has focused on issues such as raising the minimum wage, paid family leave and clean energy.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on transportation policy. Oversees regulators for aviation, highways, railways, pipelines and others.
The nominee: Pete Buttigieg was the mayor of South Bend, Ind., from 2012 to 2020. He ran in the 2020 Democratic primaries and endorsed Biden after withdrawing in March. Buttigieg was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. Buttigieg would be the first openly LGBTQ person in U.S. history to have a permanent Cabinet role.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on energy policy. Oversees the nuclear weapons stockpile.
The nominee: Jennifer Granholm was the governor of Michigan from 2003 to 2011, and worked with the state's auto industry during the financial crisis, with a focus on clean energy development. Earlier, she served one term as the state's attorney general.
Secretary of the Interior
Deb Haaland-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Oversees public and federal lands and their natural resources, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The nominee: Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico was elected to the House of Representatives in 2019, one of the first two Native American women to serve in Congress. If confirmed, she will be the first Native American person in a Cabinet role.
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency Michael Regan-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on climate and environmental issues and enforces environmental laws.
The nominee: Michael Regan heads North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality, focusing on coal ash and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, cleanups. He earlier worked for the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, focusing on air quality initiatives.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises on education policy. Oversees financial aid for students.
The nominee: Miguel Cardona has been the education commissioner of Connecticut since August 2019. A former teacher, he was assistant superintendent in the district where he went to school himself and where he started his career.
Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy Eric Lander-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Recommends broad direction for the president's science and technology policy.
The nominee: Dr. Eric Lander leads one of the world's top biomedical research institutes and was one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project. He also advised the Obama administration on science and technology issues. Biden is elevating the OSTP director position to the Cabinet for the first time.
These officials will work on Biden's push to roll back Trump administration policies on immigration and climate as well as help with the coronavirus response. Many of these officials for key agencies must also receive Senate confirmation.
CIA Director William Burns-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Provides foreign intelligence to the president.
The nominee: William Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank. He had a 33-year career in the foreign service, including serving as ambassador to Russia and earlier to Jordan.
Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development Samantha Power-CIA Director-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Works with State Department and National Security Council to direct foreign and humanitarian aid.
The nominee: Samantha Power was Obama's ambassador to the United Nations and earlier was part of his National Security Council focused on human rights issues. She is a former war correspondent who covered Bosnia and a Pulitzer-prize winning writer about genocide.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Assists Secretary of State on all aspects of foreign policy.
The nominee: Wendy Sherman led negotiations for the Iran deal during the Obama administration as an under secretary for political affairs. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to be the deputy secretary of state.
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Adewale "Wally" Adeyemo-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Works directly with the Secretary of Treasury, assisting with economic policy and the financial system.
The nominee: Wally Adeyemo is the president of the Obama Foundation. He was senior international economic adviser in the Obama White House, and was the first chief of staff for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Adeyemo would be the first African American deputy secretary at the Treasury Department.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Manages the day-to-day operations of the Justice Department.
The nominee: Lisa Monaco was President Barack Obama's top adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism. She spent 15 years at the Justice Department, first as a career federal prosecutor, and eventually becoming the assistant attorney general for national security.
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Oversees federal efforts to protect against and respond to public health threats.
The nominee: Dr. Rochelle Walensky is chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is an expert on virus testing, prevention and treatment.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Providing public health information and advice. Oversees the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
The nominee: Dr. Vivek Murthy was Surgeon General during the Obama administration. He is a physician and research scientist and has advised Biden on COVID-19 issues.
Member, Council of Economic Advisers Jared Bernstein-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises the president on economic policy.
The nominee: Jared Bernstein was Biden's chief economist in the Obama White House. A former social worker, Bernstein is a senior fellow at the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think-tank.
Member, Council of Economic Advisers Heather Boushey-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Advises the president on economic policy.
The nominee: Heather Boushey is a longtime economic adviser to Biden. She is the CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a nonprofit research group. She also worked for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
Chairperson, Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Assists with environmental policy implementation, working directly with the president and respective agencies involved.
The nominee: Brenda Mallory was general counsel to the Council on Environmental Quality during the Obama administration and has held senior legal roles within the Environmental Protection Agency. She now works at the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency Deanne Criswell-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Leads federal response to disasters and emergencies.
The nominee: Deanne Criswell leads New York City's emergency management department, which has led the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier, she worked at FEMA as a senior officer leading emergency responses and was a firefighter in the Colorado Air National Guard.
Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rohit Chopra-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Enforces federal consumer financial laws.
The nominee: Rohit Chopra is a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission. An ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., he previously was the assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he worked on protections for people with student loans.
Chair, Securities and Exchange Commission Gary Gensler-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Heads the agency that regulates securities markets and protects investors.
The nominee: Gary Gensler was head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission where he led derivatives markets reforms in the wake of the 2008 market crash. Previously, he worked at Goldman Sachs before working in former President Bill Clinton's Treasury Department.
These are the top aides who Biden will count on to run his White House and advise him on top policy initiatives. Most do not need confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Chief of Staff Ron Klain-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Sets overall direction of the White House on behalf of the president.
The nominee: Ron Klain is a lawyer and longtime aide to President-elect Joe Biden, repeatedly serving with him during the Obama administration, the Senate and past campaigns. Klain was Biden’s first chief of staff when he was vice president, then oversaw the White House response to the Ebola epidemic in 2014. Outside of government, Klain worked for the investment firm Revolution. Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O'Malley Dillon-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Helps run day-to-day operations of the White House staff.
The nominee: Jen O'Malley Dillon joined Biden's campaign in March after managing Beto O'Rourke's primary bid. She is a veteran of seven presidential campaigns and a former executive director of the Democratic National Committee. Deputy Chief of Staff Bruce Reed-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Helps run day-to-day operations of the White House staff.
The nominee: Bruce Reed was former President Bill Clinton's chief domestic policy adviser. He worked with Biden in the Obama White House and was a senior adviser on his campaign.
Counselor to the President Steve Ricchetti-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Provides strategic advice to the president.
The nominee: Steve Ricchetti was Biden's second chief of staff when Biden was vice president. A longtime aide to Biden, Ricchetti was a deputy chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton. During the George W. Bush era, Ricchetti worked as a lobbyist. Counselor to the President Jeff Zients-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Coordinates the COVID-19 response on vaccines and other issues with agencies, and state and local governments.
The nominee: Jeff Zients was a top economic official in the Obama White House. He is known for leading efforts to fix the healthcare.gov website. Since then, he has been CEO of investment firm Cranemere and had been on Facebook's board of directors. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Top adviser to the president on national security policy and related decisions.
The nominee: Jake Sullivan was national security adviser to Biden during the Obama administration. He was also deputy chief of staff to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sullivan was a lead negotiator in talks that led to the Iran nuclear deal. Director, Office of Management and Budget Neera Tanden-CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Prepares the administration's budget proposal to Congress; reviews all regulations proposed by agencies.
The nominee: Neera Tanden is the CEO of the Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning think tank. Tanden played a senior role at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration, working on the Affordable Care Act. She was a campaign adviser to Obama and Hillary Clinton. Director, National Economic Council Brian Deese-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Top adviser to the president on economic policy and related decisions.
The nominee: Brian Deese was deputy director of the National Economic Council, a top official at the Office of Management and Budget, and climate adviser in the Obama White House. Since then, he has worked at BlackRock as the global head of sustainable investing. Director, Domestic Policy Council Susan Rice-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Top adviser to the president on domestic policy and related decisions.
The nominee: Susan Rice was former President Barack Obama's ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013 and then became his national security adviser. Rice also had a senior role in the State Department during the Clinton administration. She has served on the board of directors at Netflix since 2018. Director, Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Provides coordination between the White House and organizations, coalitions and other public groups.
The nominee: Cedric Richmond is a five-term Louisiana congressman and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He served on multiple committees and worked on criminal justice reform legislation. Richmond co-chaired Biden's campaign. He will serve as a senior adviser to Biden in addition to being director of the Office of Public Engagement. Senior Adviser to the President Mike Donilon-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Top adviser to the president, overseeing a wide range of policy and related decisions.
The nominee: Mike Donilon was Biden's chief strategist during Biden's presidential campaign, where he led speechwriting, advertising and polling. He also worked as a counselor to Biden when Biden was vice president. Donilon has been part of six presidential campaigns and more than 25 congressional, gubernatorial and mayoral races. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Senior adviser to the president on climate-related policy and decisions, elevated to be part of the National Security Council.
The nominee: John Kerry was a secretary of state to Obama and was an architect of the Paris climate accord. A former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry was also a U.S. senator from Massachusetts for 28 years. National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Runs the new White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. Assists the president in coordinating his climate agenda.
The nominee: Gina McCarthy led the Environmental Protection Agency during President Barack Obama's second term. She has since been CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Earlier in her career, McCarthy was an environmental regulator in Connecticut. Director, Office of Legislative Affairs Louisa Terrell-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Provides coordination between the White House and Congress.
The nominee: Louisa Terrell worked on legislative affairs in the Obama White House. She earlier worked with Biden during his time as a U.S. senator, serving as his deputy chief of staff. Terrell has also worked for consultants McKinsey and Co., Yahoo! and Facebook. Director, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Chávez Rodriguez-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Provides coordination between the White House and state and local governments.
The nominee: Julie Chávez Rodriguez worked as Biden's deputy campaign manager. Earlier, she was national political director for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' presidential bid. Rodriguez had a senior role on the Obama White House's public engagement team. Counsel to the President Dana Remus-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Top legal adviser to the president.
The nominee: Dana Remus was the general counsel to Biden's presidential campaign. She has also served as the general counsel for the Obama Foundation. In the Obama White House, she was deputy counsel for ethics. She previously taught law at the University of North Carolina School of Law and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Press Secretary Jen Psaki-NO CONFIRMATION NEEDED The position: Speaks on behalf of the president with the media; provides briefings
The nominee: Jen Psaki is a member of Biden's presidential transition team. She previously served in the Obama administration as communications director and as the spokesperson for the State Department. Psaki also worked on both of Obama's presidential campaigns as well as John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.