Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Top Contenders for Biden’s Cabinet Draw Fire From All Sides

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Aides to the president-elect said on Wednesday that he intended to announce more members of his economic team this coming week after choosing Janet L. Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, to be his Treasury secretary.

Mr. Biden could pick Roger W. Ferguson Jr., an economist who was vice chair of the Federal Reserve and was under serious consideration for the Treasury job, to lead the National Economic Council or a new board overseeing the recovery from the recession.

Picking Mr. Ferguson, who is Black, to lead the council would help Mr. Biden keep a promise to make his administration look like the rest of America. Other names under consideration for the position are white men, including Bruce Reed, a former chief of staff to Mr. Biden, and Austan Goolsbee, an economist who was chairman of Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Gene Sperling, a veteran economic adviser dating back to the Clinton administration, is another possibility, as is Brian Deese, who was deputy director of the National Economic Council under Mr. Obama.

Mr. Reed, a noted centrist and deficit hawk, was Mr. Clinton’s domestic policy director, and helped develop the welfare overhaul that Mr. Clinton signed into law requiring work and setting time limits.

He has come under fire from prominent liberal members of Congress, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who also oppose his consideration to lead the Office of Management and Budget, which helps the White House determine economic priorities. But blocking Mr. Reed, who traveled with Mr. Biden for much of the campaign, from the budget office post may only ensure he winds up in the West Wing, where the president-elect could make him a senior adviser.

To lead the Agriculture Department, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking Black member of Congress, is pushing for Representative Marcia L. Fudge, an African-American Democrat from Ohio. Mr. Clyburn, an early and important backer of Mr. Biden, has said the department should be focused more on hunger.

But traditionalists eager to keep a voice from rural America in the post are advocating Heidi Heitkamp, a former senator from North Dakota, or Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who served as agriculture secretary for Mr. Obama.

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