Biden pushes back against critics, touts ‘Cabinet of firsts’
After weeks of pressure from all sides of the Democratic Party’s vast coalition over the makeup of his incoming administration, President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday pushed back against his critics as he made another history-making Cabinet nomination.
“By the end of this process, this Cabinet will be the most representative of any Cabinet in American history. We’ll have more people of color than any Cabinet ever. We’ll have more women than any Cabinet ever. We’ll have a Cabinet of barrier breakers, a Cabinet of firsts,” Biden emphasized on Wednesday.
Biden, who has vowed to make good on his promise that his administration would “look like America,” touted his choices to date, saying “our Cabinet doesn’t have just one first, or just two of these firsts, but eight precedent-busting appointments. And today a ninth – the first openly gay nominee to lead a Cabinet department and one of the youngest Cabinet members ever.”
The president-elect spoke in his hometown of Wilmington, Del., as he nominated former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary. The 38-year old Buttigieg, who was a rival of the former vice president during the Democratic presidential primaries, would become the first openly gay Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate. Richard Grenell, who is gay, served as acting Director of National Intelligence under President Trump but was not Senate-confirmed to that position.
Speaking after Biden, Buttigieg said he was “mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment, knowing that this is the first time an American president has ever sent an openly LGBTQ Cabinet member to the Senate for confirmation.”
And he thanked Biden “for honoring your commitment to diversity with this administration you’re assembling.”
Besides his diverse choices to date to serve in top posts in his incoming administration, Biden made history over the summer when he named another one-time nomination rival, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, as his running mate. Harris is the first woman, and the first African American and first Asian American to be elected vice president.
The president-elect has faced some criticism, both subtle and some public, over his Cabinet and White House picks, especially after some of his earliest choices included four White men who were longtime Biden confidants.
But on Wednesday, the president-elect declared that “the Biden-Harris Cabinet will be an historic Cabinet, a Cabinet that looks like America, a Cabinet that taps into the best of America, a Cabinet that is opening doors and breaking down barriers.”