Representation in President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks draws praise and criticism

Presidential Transition

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to have the most diverse Cabinet in history, but with such a promise comes extra scrutiny from his own party.

“Having criticism of an incoming administration and pushing back, demanding more. I think it’s a good thing,” said Democratic Rep. Jimmy Gomez, of California. “It makes them better.”

Gomez is referring to criticism from the Congressional Black Caucus, and some prominent Hispanic voices, who’ve felt underrepresented in Biden’s Cabinet picks.

Gomez said he thought Biden to the criticism to heart, after choosing Mexican American Xavier Becerra as his nominee for health and human services secretary, and African American Lloyd Austin for defense secretary.

“The diversity is evolving and it’s unfolding,” Gomez said. “And it’s only going to get better.”

But Austin’s announcement came on the heels of pressure from House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a trusted ally of Joe Biden. He criticized the lack of Black choices in what he called the “Big Four” Cabinet positions.

“From all I hear, Black people have been given fair consideration. But there is only one Black woman so far,” Clyburn had said. “I want to see where the process leads to, what it produces … But so far it’s not good.”

Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, of California, is a member of the House Progressive Caucus. Some of its members pushed the incoming administration for more progressive nominees.

“Of course I’ll raise my voice if there are areas where we need to be going further, or we need to be doing,” Khanna said.

He said it’s important to bridge party divides and give the country a chance to unify behind the new president.

“I’m going to try to work with him to the extent possible,” Khanna said.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of the “Squad” signed and shared a petition aimed at keeping “deficit hawks” — fiscally conservative nominees — out of Biden’s Cabinet.

Ocasio-Cortez recently said she felt the incoming Cabinet’s overall vision was “a little hazy.”

“Well Joe Biden had always said wait until the process is complete,” Democratic Rep. Hakim Jeffries, of New York, said.

There are still a few vacancies left, including one major position: the attorney general pick.

Jeffries, who’s chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, praised Biden’s Cabinet picks for their merit and diversity.

He told NewsNation that critics should wait until the whole list is filled out.

“Let’s see where he lands, but he’s off to a phenomenal start,” Jeffries said.

Congressman Jim Clyburn’s criticism specifically has eased up since he called it “not good.” Clyburn praised the addition of Marcia Fudge as nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Biden’s transition team has not yet returned NewsNation’s request for comment.

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