WASHINGTON — Although he has yet to be certified, President-elect Joe Biden is moving to fill out his administration and could name top leaders for his Cabinet as early as next week.
Biden told reporters on Thursday that he’s already decided on who will lead the Treasury Department. That pick, along with his nominee for secretary of state, may be announced before Thanksgiving, according to people close to the transition.
The Cabinet announcements could be released in tranches, with groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, like the economy, national security or public health, being announced at once.
Biden is preparing for the presidency even as President Donald Trump is challenging election results in key states.
Biden is holding frequent virtual meetings from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, and a music venue downtown.
In putting together the 15-person team, Biden is facing demands from multiple, competing interests, as well as the political realities of navigating a closely divided Senate.
Two finalists to be America’s top diplomat include Antony Blinken, a former deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state, and Chris Coons, who holds Biden’s former Senate seat from Delaware and sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Blinken and Coons are close to Biden, and both have privately and, in some cases, publicly, expressed interest in the job. But with the balance of power in the Senate depending on two runoffs in Georgia, Blinken may have the upper hand. The thinking, these people said, is that even if Coons is tapped for the post and replaced with a Democrat by Delaware’s Democratic governor, the loss of his influence in the Senate may outweigh his value as secretary of state.
That Senate calculation also weighs heavily on perhaps Biden’s presumptive first choice, former ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser Susan Rice. Rice, who is also close to Biden, would almost certainly face difficulty in a confirmation process with a Republican-controlled Senate because of her past misleading comments about the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic compounds. As Biden moves forward, his team won’t have access to their counterparts at the various federal agencies or tap funds and office space for the transition until the General Services Administration ascertains that Biden is the winner.
—AP stories contributed to this report.