President Joe Biden has been in office for nearly four weeks and Congress swears in his Cabinet choices.
Along with Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden’s cabinet is made up of 15 departments. Cabinet members act as advisers to the president, helping him make decisions on national and international politics.
Once the president chooses someone to be part of his cabinet, he sends a formal nomination to the Senate, where the candidate is voted on. If the Senate approves, the candidate takes the oath.
Each member heads their respective department and agency, dictating how those departments work on behalf of the American people. Many of the decisions they make and the advice they give affect national and local politics, impacting the American public from top to bottom.
Political science professors at the University of Georgia weighed in on Biden’s cabinet choices.
A group of “firsts”
Of the Cabinet picks that have been confirmed, Janet Yellen is the first woman to head the US Treasury Department, Lloyd Austin is the first African-American Secretary of Defense and Pete Buttigieg, as Secretary of Transportation, is the first openly homosexual man confirmed in Cabinet.
UGA political science professors Audrey Haynes and Michael Lynch were surprised at Buttigieg’s appointment as transport secretary.
“I was happy to see Mayor Pete having the opportunity to lead and manage a department,” said Haynes. “He seemed to be one of the voices that was relatively young and captured a group that had not so far been very visible in government.”
However, Lynch said Buttigieg was not as expert at his job as some of Biden’s other Cabinet picks.
“He’s someone, compared to all the other people who seem to have a clear expertise in what they’re in, maybe he’s a little different in that regard,” Lynch said.
If they are confirmed, Deb Haaland and Xavier Becerra will also be “first”. Haaland, as Home Secretary, would be the first Native American to head the agency, and Becerra, as Health and Human Services secretary, would be the first Latino in that post.
” It’s clear that [Biden] wants his cabinet to reflect the diversity that is America, ”said Haynes.
Building on experience
During his ministerial choices, Biden appointed numerous members of the Obama administration, including Antony Blinken as Secretary of State, Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security, Denis McDonough as Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Tom Vilsack as Secretary. to Agriculture. Blinken, Mayorkas and McDonough have been confirmed.
Haynes said the Cabinet was more experienced because of it – Biden’s choices aren’t political outsiders. Political science professor Jamie Carson agreed that Biden’s cabinet was highly qualified because of their previous experience, and Lynch said Biden appeared to “prioritize experience.”
Lynch said that Biden’s focus on experience “may be a signal that Biden plans to lean on these people and the agencies and have them give him more advice and guidance.”
Once everyone in Biden’s cabinet is sworn in, Professors Haynes and Carson expect Biden to interact with them in two ways.
Carson said Biden may be more dependent on his cabinet advice than previous presidents.
“Presidents vary in the extent to which they depend on their cabinet from one administration to another, but given the many issues facing the nation, such as the pandemic, racial injustice, partisan polarization and economic instability, he can rely a little more on his Cabinet early on for advice on how best to tackle these serious issues in the future, ”Carson said.
Haynes said Cabinet members could fix Biden’s issues.
“He may not be using [the Cabinet] for advice, but lets them innovate in their policy areas… He may need to muster talent to solve real challenges, ”said Haynes.
On the most important issues Cabinet will guide Biden, there was a consensus among professors: COVID-19 and the economy.
“COVID and the battle to vaccinate the country effectively and quickly before things get worse – that’s the number one goal,” Haynes said.
Congress continues to work on Cabinet appointments.