Biden expected to announce first Cabinet picks on Tuesday

The US president-elect has vowed to build the most diverse Government in modern history.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

US President-elect Joe Biden’s first Cabinet picks are expected on Tuesday as planning gets under way for a pandemic-modified inauguration in January.

His team are moving forward with their proposals despite roadblocks from the Trump administration.

Ron Klain, Mr Biden’s incoming chief of staff, has yet to offer details about which department heads will be announced first.

Mr Biden has pledged to build the most diverse US Government in modern history and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administration to reflect the country.

That has some Washington observers waiting to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the first African American at the top the Defence Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.

Mr Biden said last week he has settled on his pick for treasury secretary.

(PA Graphics)

The Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Mr Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the Cabinet selection process, Mr Klain said.

Mr Trump’s General Services Administration has yet to acknowledge that Mr Biden won the election – a determination that would remove those roadblocks.

“We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees, Mr Klain told ABC’s This Week.

“And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day.”

Some Republicans have broken with Mr Trump in recent days and called on him to accept the results of the election.

Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said there is a “very good chance” Mr Biden will be president and he and his team should have access to relevant information for the transition.

After a judge’s ruling against the Trump campaign in an election challenge in Pennsylvania on Saturday, GOP Senator Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania, said the president has “exhausted all plausible legal options” and congratulated Mr Biden on his win.

On Sunday, former Republican governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, a long-time supporter of Mr Trump, said on ABC it is time for the president to stop contesting the outcome.

Mr Christie said Mr Trump’s legal team is a “national embarrassment”.

Looking ahead to the inauguration on January 20, Mr Klain said it will “definitely have to be changed” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said Mr Biden’s team is consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.

Mr Klain said: “They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honours the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal.”

Inaugurations typically include a traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, remarks by the president and vice-president from the Capitol, a lunch with politicians  in the Capitol rotunda and numerous balls across Washington.

All are events attended by hundreds and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people who travel to the nation’s capital.

It is unclear how public health concerns will affect those traditions.

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