President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, led by campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield.
Bedingfield will serve as Biden’s White House communications director, and Jen Psaki, a longtime Democratic spokeswoman, will be his press secretary.
Biden, whose office said he would receive his first presidential intelligence briefing on Monday, also plans to name a woman as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Neera Tanden, the president and chief executive of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, will be given the job of overseeing the implementation of Biden’s policies, according to a person familiar with the transition process.
The president-elect announces senior communications team, led by campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield.
All three are veterans of the Obama administration. Bedingfield served as communications director for Biden while he was vice president; Psaki was a White House communications director and a spokesperson at the state department; and Tanden served as a senior adviser to the-then health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.
“Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a President, and this team will be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of connecting the American people to the White House,” Biden said in a statement.
“These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better,” he added.
Karine Jean Pierre, who was vice president-elect Kamala Harris’ chief of staff, will serve as a principal deputy press secretary for the president-elect. She is another Obama administration alum, having served as a regional political director for the White House office of political affairs.
Pili Tobar, who was communications director for coalitions on Biden’s campaign, will be his deputy White House communications director.
Another woman expected to be appointed to a senior role in the administration is Cecilia Rouse, who will beome chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.
Rouse, a labor economist at Princeton University whose research has focused on the economics of education and tackling wealth inequality, is well-liked by progressives. She previously served as a member of the council in the Obama administration.
Biden is also expected to pick Wally Adeyemo, senior international economic adviser in the Obama administration, to serve as Janet Yellen’s top deputy at the treasury department. Economists Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey are expected to be named as members of the Council of Economic Advisers, the person said.
Biden has also picked Brian Deese, another adviser under Obama, to head the White House National Economic Council, the New York Times reported, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.
The economic blow dealt by the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare dramatic wealth and racial disparities that progressives want Biden’s team to tackle swiftly. They have leaned hard on him to shun corporate lobbyists and prioritise diverse picks.
The economic selections so far represent “broad diversity, deep expertise, long Washington experience”, said Matt Bennett, co-founder of centrist Democratic political consultancy Third Way, and “a return to competence and sanity”.
But some progressives criticized the selection of Deese, a White House climate official under Obama and currently an executive at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager.
Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project, a group that scrutinizes corporate influence in government, said BlackRock’s large stake in U.S. policy decisions might put pressure on Deese to recuse himself from some policy matters.
“He will either be absent from big chunks of his job or proceed without regard to the conflicts of interest,” Hauser said. BlackRock did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The appointment of Tanden, who heads the left-leaning Center for American Progress think tank and sparred with the progressive camp over her support for Hillary Clinton against Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential race, is also likely to draw criticism from the left.