Biden announces picks for heads of Interior, Energy, and EPA

On Dec. 17, President-elect Joe Biden announced his picks for secretaries of energy and the interior, and administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. These announcements leave five remaining Cabinet-level positions in the Biden administration without announced nominees.

Biden nominated former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) as Secretary of Energy. She served as governor from 2003 to 2011 and since has worked as an adjunct professor of law and public policy at the University of California-Berkeley, a senior advisor to The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy Program, and a contributor on political talk shows.

Biden nominated U.S. Rep. Debra Haaland (D-N.M.) as Secretary of the Interior. An enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, Haaland would be the first person of Native American descent to serve in this position. In the 116th Congress, Haaland served on the natural resources and armed services committees.

Biden nominated Michael Regan, North Carolina’s secretary of environmental quality, as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Regan worked for the EPA under the Clinton and Bush administrations from 1998 to 2008. He would be the first Black man to serve in this position.

The five remaining Cabinet-level positions without announced nominees are Attorney General, Commerce, Labor, Education, and Small Business Administration.

Senate confirms Ratcliffe as director of national intelligence

The U.S. Senate voted 49-44 on May 21 to confirm U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to the position of director of national intelligence (DNI). Ratcliffe will take over the role from the current acting DNI, Richard Grenell. Grenell is the second acting DNI to serve in an interim capacity since Dan Coats stepped down in August 2019.

All 49 yea votes in the full Senate came from Republican senators. Forty-three Democrats and one independent voted nay. 4 Republican, 3 Democratic, and one independent senator did not vote.

Ratcliffe will be the sixth person to become DNI since the first appointee was sworn in in 2005. Four acting directors of national intelligence have also served in the role, three of them in the Trump administration.

In order to assume federal executive duties, Ratcliffe will need to resign from representing Texas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. A spokesperson for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said that the governor would not call a special election to fill the vacancy caused by Ratcliffe’s resignation.

Ratcliffe ran unopposed in the March 3 Republican primary. Republican leaders in his district will meet in August to select the party’s nominee who will run in the general election.

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