When President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn into office, they’ll have a lot to grapple with — from a still-raging COVID-19 pandemic to vaccine distribution. But someone who’s known Biden for decades said they’re ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work
“He and Vice President-elect Harris have said is they want to build an America united. And first, in trying to do that, you’ve got to have America that looks like itself at all levels of leadership,” said Tony Allen, Ph.D., who heads the Biden-Harris Presidential Inauguration Committee.
Allen said he’s known Biden for 25 years — first started working for him as a speechwriter when Biden was a U.S. Senator and Allen was a full-time student.
“So I think you can see already from the transition, he has been very intentional with his picks,” Allen said. “This is the most diverse and inclusive administration in U.S. history.”
If confirmed, some of his picks would be “firsts” for a presidential administration. One example would be Janet Yellen, who would become the first woman to lead the Treasury Department. Wally Adeyemo would become the first African American deputy treasury secretary, while Cecilia Rouse is in line to be the first African American woman to lead the Council of Economic Advisers.
Another historic pick, if confirmed, is Neera Tanden, who can become the first woman of color and the first South Asian American to head the Office of Management and Budget. Xavier Becerra could become the first Latino in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Lastly, Biden nominated U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland to be the first Native American Cabinet secretary, leading the Department of the Interior.
Allen told WTOP making sure there’s opportunity for all is top of mind for the incoming president.
“Joe Biden believes that it still matters that people still get a fair shot, that there is racial equity, that there is capacity for folks to be their best selves, and that barriers to creating new opportunities should really be removed,” Allen said.
In a troubling, tense year, and after a contentious election, Allen said there’s another important matter to the incoming administration.
“He’s been really clear about this since the election, he wants to be the president for all Americans,” Allen said. “So it’s not about Democrats or Republicans. For him, it really is about representing the interests of all Americans.”