The Biden Administration’s Cabinet: Nominations and Explanations of Each Position

Angelina Astic, Copy Editor

In preparation for his 2021 inauguration and assemblage of his administration personnel, President-Elect Joseph R. Biden and the office of the President-Elect have named and continue to nominate individuals as members of the Cabinet and staff. 


According to Article II, Section Two, Clause One of the U.S. Constitution, the Cabinet serves as the leading advisory committee to the President of the United States. All members of the Cabinet, minus Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, must be confirmed by members of the Senate. In compliance with the Supreme Court ruling in the 1926 case of Myers v. United States, the President has the ability to dismiss any member at any time without consulting or receiving approval from the Senate. Cabinet members, like the President and Vice President, can also face impeachment by the House of Representatives and face trial before the Senate under Article II, Section Four of the U.S. Constitution. To check the President’s power, the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants power to the Vice President and members of Cabinet to declare the sitting President “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” All nominations listed below are subject to change, as confirmation remains necessary for appointment to office. 

Secretary of State – Antony Blinken

Antony Blinken served as a member of the State Department and National Security Council in the Clinton administration. Afterwards, he worked from 2001-2002 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies as a senior fellow. From 2002-2008, he worked at the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as the Democratic Staff Director. Working with the Obama-Biden administration, Blinken worked as National Security Advisor to Biden, the then Vice President of the U.S. (2009-2013), U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor (2013-2015) and as the 18th U.S. Deputy Secretary of State (2015-2017). After working for the federal government, Blinken co-founded the consulting firm WestExac Advisory, and serves as a member on the Council on Foreign Relations.  

Tasked with duties primarily regarding foreign policy and affairs, the Secretary of State serves as the U.S.’s leading member in foreign relations. The Secretary of State also deals with matters regarding immigration and diplomacy, and oversees the U.S. ambassadors and diplomats to nations across the globe. Negotiation on foreign agreements, treaties and policies also fall under the list of duties for the Secretary of State. Domestic affairs also play a role in the duty of the Secretary of State, as they serve as the correspondent from the federal level to states’ secretaries of state. 

Secretary of the Treasury – Janet Yellen 

Janet Yellen has spent her professional life working as an economist, educator and member of the federal government. At the Brooking Institution, Yellen has worked as an economist and from 1985-2006 taught as a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. Under the Clinton administration, Yellen worked as the 18th chair of the Council of Economic Advisors and as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. From 2004-2010, she served as the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Under the Obama Administration, Yellen worked as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2010-2014 and as a member again of the Federal Reserve Board of Governor from 2010 to 2018. From Feb. 2014 to 2018, she also served as the 15th Chair of the Federal Reserve. 

The Secretary of Treasury works on all federal financial and monetary affairs. As the main and most trusted financial advisor to the President, the Secretary of Treasury works closely with fellow members of the cabinet on the formulation of policy by presenting the economic components that must be considered. 

Secretary of Homeland Security – Alejandro Mayorkas 

Alejandro Mayorkas has spent his professional career working as a lawyer and member of the federal government. Under the Clinton administration, he served as the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. From 2009-2013, Mayorkas worked for the Obama administration as Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Immediately after working as Director, he served as the 6th U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. After his work for the federal government, he transitioned to the private sector, becoming a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, a law firm located in D.C.

As head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Homeland Security works to ensure the safety of the homeland and citizens across the country. Tasked with overseeing the departments of Federal Protective Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol Coast Guard, U.S Secret Service and Coast Guard, the Secretary of Homeland Security coordinates with the President to create policy which works to maintain the safety and security of the American people. 

Secretary of Defense – No nomination announced 

As chief executive officer of the U.S. Department of Defense, the Secretary of Defense works alongside the President as “deputy commander-in-chief” on matters concerning the branches of the armed forces, which include the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard. They serve a dual role, holding a both operational and administrative position, over the DOD. Alongside the President, the Secretary of Defense has the power to issue an authorization of the transfer of operational control of forces within the military departments as well as Combatant Commands. Secretaries of Defense can only hold the position once seven years have passed since they served as a member of the general armed forces. 

Attorney General – No nomination announced

Serving at the top of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Attorney General provides legal counsel to the President on matters relating to legislation as chief lawyer of the U.S. The Attorney General also, like all his or her counterparts, must uphold the contents and principles of the U.S. Constitution, basing their commentary on the document. 

Secretary of the Interior  – No nomination announced 

Dealing with affairs concerning the conservation of federal lands and managing the nation’s supply and production of national resources, the Secretary of the Interior leads the U.S. Department of the Interior. Overseeing the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and United States Geological Survey, the Secretary of the Interior works closely with both the President and private citizens, appointing a select few to the Board of the National Park Foundation. Like their counterparts, the Secretary of the Interior advises the President on policy which would affect the environment, natural resources and various other components of domestic lands owned by the federal government.  

Secretary of Agriculture – No nomination announced

Overseeing the agricultural sector of the U.S., the Secretary of Agriculture manages the United States Forest Service, United States Food Safety and Inspection Service and Food Stamp Program, as well as the United States Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. Tasked with managing national forests and grasslands and inspecting food safety and quality for food products both imported and exported to and from the U.S., the Secretary of Agriculture oversees matters ranging federal forests to ensure that the food products Americans consume are standard. In addition to working with all fifty-four states and territories so that those in need receive food and providing guidance for farmers nationwide, the Secretary of Agriculture works closely with the President on legislation impacting the umbrella of departments which fall under the Department of Agriculture. 

Secretary of Commerce – No nomination announced

Working to aggrandize American businesses, corporations and industries, the Secretary of Commerce leads the United States Department of Commerce. On a mission to increase the capabilities and expansion of American industries, the Secretary of Commerce works with the president on legislation that would benefit American businesses and corporations.

Secretary of Labor – No nomination announced

Serving on behalf of the American workforce, the Secretary of Labor works in the interests of labor unions, American workers and the workplace. As a member of cabinet, the Secretary of Labor advises the president on legislation that affects American workers at large and the condition in which they work. 

Secretary of Health & Human Services – No nomination announced

Charged with affairs concerning welfare programs in the U.S., the Secretary of Health & Human Services supervises the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health and Administration for Children and Families, as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Secretary of Health & Human Services works on matters regarding health, accessibility to welfare and income security programs. In advising the President, they work to advance the aforementioned programs through legislation. 

Secretary of Housing & Urban Development – No nomination announced 

Serving on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Secretary of Housing & Urban Development  works alongside the President in creating legislation that would increase homeownership in the U.S. and create fair and accessible housing, as well as create and provide support for communities across the country.  

Secretary of Transportation – No nomination announced

Assigned with the duty to cultivate an economically accessible, environmentally-conscious and efficient transportation system across the U.S., the Secretary of Transportation serves at the head of the United States Department of Transportation. When it comes to policy, the Secretary of Transportation advises the President on matters concerning public transportation and ways to expand systems of transportation in the U.S.

Secretary of Energy – No nomination announced 

Entrusted with the U.S. Department of Energy, the Secretary of Energy must work to assist in the advancement of technologies to help in creating more efficient energy sources, as well as minimizing the impact of energy sources on the environment. As a member of the cabinet, the Secretary of Treasury advises the President on policies that could advance the energy sector in the U.S. and ensure proper energy education in America. 

Secretary of Education – No nomination announced 

Charged with matters relating to the education system of the U.S., the Secretary of Education reviews the programs and standards of education in the U.S. and surveys the U.S. Department of Education. The Secretary of Education advises the President on legislation which could promote education for students across the country, as well as improve the programs students participate in through their schools. 

Secretary of Veterans Affairs – No nomination announced 

Serving on behalf of veterans and members of the armed forces, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs is entrusted with the programs available to veterans, including: health care and insurances, benefits, national memorials and cemeteries. Working at the top of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs works alongside the President to create legislation which improves on existing programs made available to veterans and expands on services provided to them after service. 

White House Staff (Cabinet Ranked)

In addition to nominating Cabinet officials, the President-Elect must appoint and nominate key West Wing staff to work by his or her side throughout his or her presidencies. While many key White House senior staff must undergo confirmation by the Senate, the Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate positions can be filled without being confirmed by the Senate. 

Chief of Staff – Ron Klain (no confirmation necessary)

Ron Klain has worked as a lobbyist, politician, attorney and political consultant. His work at the forefront of the public sector began with his work as Chief of Staff for Vice President Al Gore. During Biden’s first term in office, Klain again served as his Chief of Staff. Obama appointed Klain as the White House Ebola Response Coordinator from 2014-2015. After leaving the Obama Administration, Klain has advised the Skoll Foundation Global Threats Fund and works as the Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Revolution, LLC.

The White House Chief of Staff oversees fellow White House staff, coordinates meetings and assembles the agenda and schedule of the President.

National Intelligence Director – Avril Haines

Avril Haines works as an attorney and former government official in the Obama administration. Under Obama, she served in the Office of the White House Counsel as Deputy Counsel to the President for National Security Affairs and later as the 4th Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In 2015, she became the Deputy National Security Advisor to Obama. After leaving the Obama administration, she began working at Columbia University as a senior research scholar and deputy director for the Columbia World Projects. She also serves as a fellow at both the Human Rights Institution and National Security Law Program located at Columbia Law School, as well as at Syracuse University’s Institute for Security Policy and Law. Haines also works for the National Commission on Military, Nation and Public Service. She has also done some consulting work for private corporations like WestExec Advisors and Palantir Technologies. 

Serving as the leader of the United States Intelligence community, the Director of National Intelligence must also lead the National Intelligence Program and advise the President, as well as the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council. Additionally, the Director of National Intelligence briefs the President every morning on top-secret intelligence information. 

National Security Advisor – Jake Sullivan (no confirmation necessary)

In the Obama Administration, Sullivan worked from 2011-2013 as Director of Policy Planning with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. Afterwards, he served from 2013-2014 as National Security Advisor to then-Vice President Biden. In 2014, he left D.C. to work at Yale Law School. As of present day, he works as a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Sullivan then worked with Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign as a senior policy advisor. Post Clinton campaign, he began working with the Macro Advisory Partners.

Working alongside the President as an advisor and briefer on matters of national security, the National Security Advisor attends National Security Council meetings and sits on the Homeland Security Council and the Principals Committee of the NSC. 

United Nations Ambassador – Linda Thomas-Greenfield 

Linda Greenfield has worked as an educator, diplomat and government official. She worked at Bucknell University teaching political science. Under President George W. Bush, Greenfield served as Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration from 2004-2006. Under Bush, she also became the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, a position she served until 2012. After her work as ambassador, she served as Director General of the United States Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources from 2012-2013. From 2013-2017, Greenfield served as the 18th Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. 

Tasked with matters relating to the United Nations, the United Nations Ambassador sits on the U.N. and U.N. Security Council as a representative for the United States. 

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate – John Kerry (no confirmation necessary)

John Kerry has worked as a politician, member of the armed forces and diplomat. Kerry served from 1966-1978 in the U.S. Navy, reaching the rank of Lieutenant and earning the honors of Silver Star, Bronze Star with valor, three Purple Hearts and a Combat Action Ribbon. He worked alongside Governor Michael Dukakis from 1983-1985 as the 66th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. Following his work as Lieutenant Governor, he served as the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts from 1985-2013. In 2004, he ran for the office of the presidency and became the Democratic nominee for president, an election which he subsequently lost. From 2007-2009, he sat as Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee. He also sat as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2009-2013. Kerry served under the Obama administration as the 68th U.S. Secretary of State. 

Charged with matters relating to energy and environmental policies, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate works alongside the President to create legislation that works in the interests of the climate. 

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator – No nomination announced 

Tasked with affairs relating to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator must enforce various environmental policies and acts to promote a healthy environment.

Office of Management and & Budget Director – No nomination announced 

Assigned to manage one of the largest components of the President’s Executive office, the Office of Management & Budget Director works to create the President’s budget plan and works with various other agencies to ensure to allocate the proper funding to promote said agencies and initiatives. 

U.S. Trade Representative – No nomination announced 

Charged with formulating and developing trade policy, the U.S. Trade Representative works alongside the President to negotiate trade deals at bilateral and multilateral levels. 

Small Business Administrator – No nomination announced 

As head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Small Business Administrator works to enhance and promote the economy through American small businesses, formulating policy that assists small business owners and the small business community at large. 

CIA Director – No nomination announced

Overseeing the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA Director works as a leader in the United States Intelligence Agency, advising the President on matters of intelligence and security.

Communications Director – No appointment announced

The White House Communications Director coordinates updates and information regarding the President’s agenda, as well as conducts efforts to advance the administration’s agenda. The Communications Director also works alongside speech writers to formulate the language and rhetoric used in the President’s statements and speeches. 

Press Secretary – No appointment announced 

Acting as a face of the administration, the White House Press Secretary communicates directly with the press to deliver information on both domestic and foreign issues. The White House Press Secretary works alongside senior staff to formulate statements and gather the necessary information to give during the daily press briefings.