By: Abigail Richards


All Staff Zoom Call with Vice President Biden, Dr. Biden, Senator Harris, and Doug Emhoff – Wilmington, DE – August 13, 2020
Photo by Adam Schultz

Fresh off the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20th, the new administration has started the hard work Biden has been promising since starting his presidential campaign in 2019. From reentering deals the past administration had left to signing many executive orders, Like reestablishing the president’s council of advisors on science and technology, To reassuring Americans, that the COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed as quickly as it can be. President Biden has had a busy first few weeks. A priority for President Biden is to establish his cabinet and have them confirmed by the Senate.

When each new administration is formed and sworn in, there are positions that need to be filled by appointed members. In a President’s cabinet, there are 26 seats total, 23 of which need to be appointed, confirmed, and filled. The three seats that do not need to be appointed and approved by the Senate are the President, Vice President, and the President’s Chief of Staff. The confirmation process includes the then President-elect appointing a new nominee to fulfill a cabinet position. When the President-elect is sworn into office, the Senate confirmation hearings begin. The Senate then votes with its one hundred members. If a tie occurs within the now evenly divided Senate, Vice President Harris will be the tie-breaking vote, giving Democrats the edge.

Since the start of the Biden Administration, seven appointees have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become new cabinet members. On inauguration day, The Senate confirmed the first appointee, Avril Haines, as the Director of National Intelligence. With Haine’s confirmation, she is now the first female director of National Intelligence and the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. intelligence section. The next cabinet member confirmed was Lloyd Austen as the Secretary of Defense. The four-star Army general is the first African-American Secretary of Defense. Cabinet member Janet Yellen, a former federal reserve chair, became the nation’s Secretary of Treasury. 

A prominent and well-known cabinet position is the Secretary of State, which confirmed appointee, Anthony Blinken, a former Clinton administration National Security Council member. Alejandro Mayorka’s the newly confirmed Secretary of Homeland Security helped the Obama administration create the DACA program and is the first Latino to head Homeland Security. Secretary Mayorka had the largest margin of being confirmed, with a vote of 56-43. Biden’s next confirmation was former Democratic presidential hopeful and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. As the newly appointed Secretary of Transportation, he is the youngest cabinet member and the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to be confirmed by the Senate. As of right now, Biden’s last confirmation was the newly confirmed Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Denis McDonough. Before his confirmation, Secretary McDonough was former President Obama’s Chief of Staff from 2013-2017 and Deputy National Security Advisor. 

President Biden and Vice President Harris have many more cabinet positions that require hearings like the appointing of the Secretaries of Education and Commerce. However, not all of President Biden’s cabinet nominees have been confirmed by the Senate. If all the cabinet nominees are confirmed, the Biden administration will have the most diverse set of cabinet members and counselors.