The scramble for positions in the coming administration of President-elect Joe Biden has reached a fever pitch in recent days, with multiple groups demanding greater representation in the White House next year.
More than 1,000 Black women released a letter to CNN demanding Biden appoint more Black women to his cabinet.
While they acknowledge the recent appointments of Linda Greenfield as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Cecilia Rouse as leader of the Council of Economic Advisers, the letter also notes that Black women propelled Biden to victory in key states like Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
"We are also pleased to see the talented Black women who have been named to various key roles in the White House. However, as we look to the historic challenges our country faces and the need for strong, accomplished leaders who reflect the breadth and depth of the American experience that you will need at your side when you take office in January 2021, there are glaring omissions in the most senior ranks," the letter read.
"We write to express how deeply troubled we are by the lack of public mention of African American women leaders as candidates under consideration to lead the 15 executive departments that comprise the President’s Cabinet — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, Veterans Affairs and the Department of Justice," the letter added.
The signees wrote that it was "long past time" for Black women to serve in the most significant positions in U.S. government and that their ardent support during the 2020 election should be rewarded with chances to implement crucial policies.
— Bianna Golodryga (@biannagolodryga) December 8, 2020
The letter coincides with a media push by members of the Congressional Black Caucus to get U.S. Rep Marcia Fudge and others into crucial cabinet positions. It also includes dozens of recommendations for each cabinet position, including Fudge for Agriculture Secretary.
Other names floated for positions include Marva Small, Lily McNair, Ph.D., Shirley Jackson, Ph.D., Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Sherrilyn Ifill, Washington, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser, San Francisco mayor London Breed and Anita Hill, among others. Last week NBC News reported that Bottoms was being considered for the Small Business Administration.
"Just as Black women and Black Americans were key to your election in November, we are key to the success of your Administration and the implementation of your vision. Our community must see ourselves reflected in key leadership positions in recognition of our importance," the letter read.
CNN noted that the letter was led by the same group, #WinWithBlackWomen, that released a letter in August as the fight over becoming Biden's running mate grew increasingly nasty and overtly racist.
A source with the transition team told CNN that they agreed with the push by Black women for more representation, noting that it was not enough to have only Harris as the Black woman in Biden's administration.
"It unfair and unrealistic to expect that Kamala Harris' race, gender and lived experience will be the only one of its kind at the decision-making table. The work that Black women have put into this election cycle should net us a seat," the unnamed source told CNN.
This week, The Washington Post reported that Biden announced plans to nominate retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin for Defense Secretary, and if confirmed he would be the first Black man to serve in the position.
Biden chose California attorney general Xavier Beccera for Health and Human Services secretary allegedly as a way to assuage some of the anger among Hispanic caucus members about cabinet decisions, according to CNN.
The fight over cabinet seats is increasingly turning vitriolic as ethnic groups and caucuses demand positions in return for supporting Biden's election.
Native American communities, which helped push Biden to victory in states like Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, have been incensed by leaks from within the Biden team downplaying the accomplishments of Rep. Deb Haaland, who is being pushed for Interior Secretary, according to HuffPost.
NEW: Leaders of Native American tribes all over the country are strongly backing Deb Haaland for interior secretary. But for some reason, anonymous Biden advisers are telling news outlets that she's not qualified. People are confused and pissed. https://t.co/Nu7KGAed0B
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) December 7, 2020
“Of course it’s offensive to say she’s not qualified,” Rep. Raul Grijalva, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, told HuffPost.
“I think those individuals being anonymous should think that through for themselves because by going after this person, you’re standing in the way of history. We’re not going to get it again. She’s real. She’s authentic. She’s legitimate. And she should have it. Anything less than that, I think, is really going to create some blowback,” he added.
More than 150 tribal leaders have signed and released a letter supporting Haaland for Interior secretary.
Similarly, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus are angry that more Asian Americans have not been appointed to Biden's cabinet.
Source familiar with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus' call with the Biden transition team says lawmakers told the team AAPI community felt "hurt" by lack of AAPIs in Cabinet despite high AAPI turnout for Biden.
— Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) December 7, 2020
Some members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus are urging Biden to find spots for former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and others, according to Politico.
NEWS in tn's Transition Playbook:
Zients' 4th time as a "czar"
Biden's increasingly crowded West Wing
Biden team resists push to make Murthy as Surgeon General a cabinet-level posthttps://t.co/3RRXFSbFtp
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) December 7, 2020
On Monday, Biden nominated Dr. Vivek Murthy as U.S. Surgeon General, and according to Wu, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu asked Biden to elevate the position to the cabinet.
Biden's representative said this was unlikely, while Chu and others were further angered by the fact that Chief of Staff Ron Klain was supposed to be there but did not attend.