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Meet the team: What to expect from the Biden administration

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A president is only as good as their cabinet, and if Joe Biden is going to start healing the United States as promised, he needs the best experts he can get.

Early signs are hopeful.

Kim Hoggard, a former adviser to Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, said the new president has made some “interesting picks”.

“To me, it’s so exciting the number of women that are in this administration in leading roles,” she said.

Twelve of Mr Biden’s nominations for cabinet and cabinet-level positions are women, including eight women of colour.

And it’s no accident.

Representation and diversity have been central to Mr Biden’s choices for top White House positions.

He has consistently promised to nominate “the most diverse cabinet in history,” stressing he wanted leaders that look like America.

Now, it’s happening.

On Wednesday evening (local time), the Senate started confirming Mr Biden’s nominees, which include some heavyweights from the Obama administration.

So, who are some of the experts slated to pull the levers in the White House?

Avril Haines: Director of national intelligence

Avril Haines will be Mr Biden‘s top intelligence official. Photo: Getty
When Avril Haines was confirmed on Wednesday evening, she became the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence.

She’s bringing a wealth of knowledge to the job.

Ms Haines was previously the deputy director of the CIA, and deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration.

Her new role as director of national intelligence, an office created after the September 11 terrorist attacks, will make her Mr Biden’s top intelligence official.

She will lead an agency that co-ordinates the entire intelligence community, including a total of 17 agencies and organisations.

Janet Yellen: Nominee for Treasury Secretary

Janet Yellen spoke at an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team. Photo: Getty
Janet Yellen is an experienced centre-left economist who was chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018.

If confirmed, she would be the first female Treasury Secretary in the job’s 231-year history.

She would also be the only person in history to have led all three major economic agencies of the executive branch: The Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the CEA.

“Janet Yellen in the Treasury Department is just extraordinary,” Ms Hoggard said.

“She is well liked by both Republicans and Democrats.”

Antony Blinken: Nominee for Secretary of State

Antony Blinken at his confirmation hearing to be Secretary of State. Photo: Getty
A long-time Biden confidant, Antony Blinken would bring two decades of foreign policy experience to the position of Secretary of State if he is confirmed.

After four years of Donald Trump’s cut-throat ‘America First’ approach to foreign policy, Mr Blinken would seek to restore the US’s standing as a collaborative, global leader.

Throughout his career, Mr Blinken has emphasised the importance of ally-ships across the world and endorsed heavier American involvement in foreign conflicts.

Lloyd Austin: Nominee for Defence Secretary

Retired general Lloyd Austin at his confirmation hearing. Photo: Getty

Lloyd Austin is a retired four-star army general who served as the 12th commander of the US Central Command.

Beau and Joe Biden in Iraq, 2009. Photo: Getty

If confirmed, he would become the first African-American Secretary of Defence.

General Austin and Mr Biden go way back.

That’s partly because he was acquaintances with the President’s late son Beau, who served on General Austin’s staff in Iraq in 2008.

The retired general’s ascension to the Pentagon’s top job would come at a time when the military continues to battle racism in the ranks, an issue that has come under the spotlight following the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

Ron Klain: White House chief of staff

Ron Klain was a White House Ebola response co-ordinator. Photo: Getty

Ron Klain is another throwback to the Obama administration.

He served as Mr Biden’s former vice presidential chief of staff, and has advised on the campaigns of every Democratic nominee for president since Bill Clinton.

While serving under President Barack Obama, Mr Klain managed the national response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014.