Biden Will Nominate First Women to Lead Treasury and Intelligence, and First Latino to Run Homeland Security


WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to name Janet L. Yellen as Treasury secretary, a nomination that would put a woman in charge of the Treasury for the first time in its 231-year history.

The expected appointment came as Mr. Biden moved to fill other top cabinet roles, selecting Alejandro Mayorkas as the first Latino to lead the Department of Homeland Security and Avril Haines as the first woman to be the director of national intelligence.

Mr. Biden is also expected to create a new post of international climate envoy and tap John Kerry, a former secretary of state who was a chief negotiator for the United States on the Paris climate change accord.

In choosing Ms. Yellen, who was also the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve, Mr. Biden is turning to a renowned labor economist at a moment of high unemployment, when millions of Americans remain out of work and the economy continues to struggle from the coronavirus.

Mr. Biden will also nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations and restore the job to cabinet-level status, giving Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, who is African-American, a seat on his National Security Council.

The racial and gender mix of the expected nominees also reflects Mr. Biden’s stated commitment to diversity, which has lagged notoriously in the worlds of foreign policy and national security.

A Cuban-born immigrant whose family fled the Castro revolution, he is a former U.S. attorney in California and began President Barack Obama’s first term as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He will have to restore trust in the department after many key Democratic constituencies came to see it as the vessel for some of Mr. Trump’s most contentious policies, such as separating migrant children from their families and building a wall along the southern border.

Top immigration officials in the Obama administration recommended Mr. Mayorkas’s nomination as a way to build support with the immigrant community while satisfying moderates and career officials within the agency who are looking for a leader with a background in law enforcement.

Ms. Haines served as deputy director of the C.I.A. in the Obama administration before succeeding Mr. Blinken as Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser. She, too, is a former aide to Mr. Biden, serving as deputy chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2007 to 2008 while Mr. Biden was chairman. Ms. Haines also served as counsel to Mr. Obama’s National Security Council, helping him navigate legal issues around counterterrorism operations and pressing for more restraint to reduce civilian casualties.

If confirmed, Ms. Haines will be the highest-ranking woman to serve in the intelligence community. The director of the C.I.A. — now led by its first female director, Gina Haspel — reports to the director of national intelligence.

Ms. Thomas-Greenfield is a 35-year Foreign Service veteran who has served in diplomatic posts around the world. She served from 2013 to 2017 as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. Just as important in the view of Biden officials is her time as a former director general and human resources director of the Foreign Service. They see it as positioning her to help restore morale at a State Department where many career officials felt ignored and even undermined during the Trump years.

Mr. Blinken began his career at the State Department during the Clinton administration.

Mr. Sullivan will take the White House’s top national security job and, at 44 when he takes office, will be the youngest person to hold that position after McGeorge Bundy, who took over the job at age 41 under President John F. Kennedy.

Mr. Sullivan followed Mr. Blinken as Mr. Biden’s top national security aide and was also a senior aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Along the way, Mr. Sullivan found admirers among conservative Republicans in Congress while playing a key role in the negotiations leading to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

A Minnesota native, Mr. Sullivan in recent months has helped lead a project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace re-conceiving U.S. foreign policy around the needs of the American middle class.

Ms. Yellen’s path to the top job at Treasury may have been paved by the man who rejected her for a second stint as Fed chair: Mr. Trump.

Ms. Yellen wanted to be reappointed when her term at the head of the central bank ended in 2018, but Mr. Trump, eager to install his own pick, decided against renominating her. Instead, he chose Jerome H. Powell, the Fed’s current chair, breaking with precedent. The previous three Fed chairs had been reappointed by presidents of the opposite political party.

But it may have cleared the way for Ms. Yellen — who became an economist at a time when few women entered or rose in the male-dominated field — to break yet another public policy glass ceiling.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.



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