Asian Americans Among Biden’s Possible Cabinet Picks

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As President-elect Joe Biden begins to form a new administration, there is speculation about his Cabinet appointees.

In a Nov. 7 article titled “Meet the Contenders for Biden’s Cabinet,” the staff of Politico listed several possible appointees, including women and people of color.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois is listed as a possible secretary of defense along with former Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and as a possible secretary of veterans’ affairs along with Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind., former presidential candidate and retired intelligence officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve; and Jason Kander, president of Veterans Community Project, former Missouri secretary of state and retired captain in the Army National Guard.

Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who was on Biden’s shortlist for vice president, earned a Purple Heart after being injured in Iraq when her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. She ultimately lost both her legs. She served as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and as assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs during the Obama Administration. She is a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is listed as a possible secretary of health and human services along with New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and North Carolina Secretary of Health Dr. Mandy Cohen.

Murthy has been part of a core group of doctors briefing Biden on the pandemic since early spring and was tapped for the new coronavirus task force Biden plans to activate during the transition. He is a former vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and a founder of Doctors for America.

Former Acting Under Secretary of Energy Arun Majumdar is listed as a possible secretary of energy along with former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and former Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.

Majumdar is best known in Washington, D.C. as the founding leader of the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy, making it a permanent fixture in the federal government. He later became acting under secretary of the Energy Department under then-Secretary Moniz. During the Trump Administration, he did a stint at Google as vice president for energy, before joining the faculty at Stanford University.

Julie Su, secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, is listed as a possible secretary of labor along with Bill Spriggs, chief economist at the AFL-CIO; Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan; Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former presidential candidate; and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Su, who served as California labor commissioner under Gov. Jerry Brown, was appointed to her current post by Gov. Gavin Newsom in January 2019. She also served as litigation director at Advancing Justice L.A. and has spent 17 years of her career as a civil rights lawyer with a focus on protecting low-wage workers and immigrant victims of crime and human trafficking.

Although he doesn’t appear on Politico’s list, entrepreneur and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang has expressed interest in being part of Biden’s team in a Cabinet-level position. In an interview in August on “The Carlos Watson Show,” Yang said, “Joe and I have actually been talking about a new position that doesn’t exist yet but should, around technology and innovation. But those conversations have been very general, so TBD.”

Asian Americans who have served in the Cabinet:

Elaine Chao, secretary of transportation under President Trump, secretary of labor under President George W. Bush

Eric Shinseki, secretary of veterans’ affairs under President Obama

Steven Chu, secretary of energy under President Obama

Gary Locke, secretary of commerce under President Obama

Norman Mineta, secretary of tranportation under President George W. Bush, secretary of commerce under President Clinton

Pat Saiki, administrator of the Small Business Administration under President George H.W. Bush

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