WILMINGTON, Del. (NewsNation Now) — President-elect Joe Biden has been criticized by some progressives in his party for cabinet selections they say are not diverse enough. He pushed back Wednesday against that with a historically significant choice.
Biden assured his critics that his cabinet will have plenty of diversity.
“It will have more people of color than any cabinet, ever,” he said. “It will have more women than any cabinet, ever.”
Buttigieg introduced as transportation secretary
With that, he introduced former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg — who could become the first openly gay cabinet member ever confirmed by the Senate — as his transportation secretary.
“What I admire about Pete is he’s always clear about who he is, what he believes, and how he wants to bring people in,” Biden said. “He’s able to walk into any room and leave people inspired with his ability to describe an America that’s the best of us.”
Buttigieg, 38, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Presidential nomination against Biden this year would also be the first millennial to hold a post in the new cabinet.
He said he has been an enthusiast for trains, planes and automobiles from a young age and will take that enthusiasm with him to the Department of Transportation.
“Americans expect us to see to it that the idea of an infrastructure week is associated with results and never again a media punch line,” Buttigieg said.
He recalled when he was 17 years old, how an openly gay man, James Hormel, appointed as an ambassador by then-President Bill Clinton was roundly attacked for who he was.
Homosexuality, said one Republican senator at the time, was a sin comparable to alcoholism or kleptomania.
“So two decades later, I can’t help but think of a 17-year-old somewhere who might be watching us right now — somebody who wonders whether and where they belong in the world or even in their own family,” he said. “And I’m thinking about the message that today’s announcement is sending to them.”
Biden to get COVID-19 vaccine
The president-elect also told reporters of his plans to get vaccinated soon, an act made more urgent with the announcement that a reporter covering him tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.
“I don’t want to get ahead of the line, but I want to make sure that we demonstrate to the American people, that it is safe to take,” Biden said. “We’re working on that plan right now and when I do it, I’ll do it publicly.”
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Coronavirus stimulus package
Biden said the $900 billion stimulus package being debated in Congress is what he called an encouraging down-payment, but more assistance to overcome the damage from the pandemic will be necessary after he takes office.
Biden asked about Hunter Biden investigation
Biden was asked about his son Hunter, who disclosed last week that federal prosecutors in Delaware were looking into his taxes.
“Are you confident your son Hunter did nothing wrong,” a reporter asked Biden.
“I am confident,” the president-elect replied.
One of the remaining cabinet vacancies is at the Department of Justice, where the next Attorney General will face something of an awkward situation right off the bat, when he inherits responsibility for that Hunter Biden investigation.