Biden aide seeks to ease concerns about Cabinet diversity

Biden aide seeks to ease concerns about Cabinet diversity
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Aides to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE on Friday sought to soothe concerns among lawmakers and activist groups about the lack of diversity among the Biden-Harris administration's major Cabinet picks thus far.

"The president-elect certainly understands and hears and welcomes the voices that are pushing him on diversity. That is how we make progress in this country,” Kate Bedingfield, who will serve as Biden's White House communications director, told reporters on a conference call.

"The president-elect is committed to selecting the most qualified individuals for each job, people who are going to bring diverse perspectives, who are going to bring diverse life stories to the table," she added. "I think he has shown that in the nominees he has rolled out thus far, and he’s certainly committed to continuing to do that."

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Bedingfield urged patience, noting Biden has only announced eight of his 23 Cabinet picks to date. Biden has tapped Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman, as ambassador to the United Nations, and he chose Alejandro Myorkas, a Latino, to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Biden also picked Neera TandenNeera TandenThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Schumer back down on his deadline? Biden's budget vacancy raises eyebrows White House releases staff salaries showing narrowed gender pay gap MORE, a woman of color, for head of the Office of Management and Budget, though some Republicans have balked at her nomination.

But Latino and Black lawmakers in particular have taken issue with the makeup of the choices so far, and they have urged Biden to choose diverse candidates for remaining prominent Cabinet slots like Defense secretary or attorney general.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Thursday criticized transition officials during a virtual meeting over the treatment of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamNew Mexico launching vaccine sweepstakes with M in prizes The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines MORE, who was offered and turned down the Interior secretary role after being floated as a possible nominee for Health and Human Services.

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.), the top-ranking Black Democrat in the House and a key surrogate for Biden during the campaign, and other Black leaders have expressed disappointment that only one Black person had been named to a Cabinet post thus far.

Biden has since rolled out his economic and press teams, which include multiple people of color. The president-elect told CNN that he will meet with the NAACP and other civil rights groups next week.

"I'm going to keep my commitment that the administration, both in the White House and outside in the Cabinet, is going to look like the country," Biden told CNN's Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperAly Raisman defends former teammate Biles: 'I'm proud of her' House Republican calls second bout of COVID-19 'far more challenging' Fauci says vulnerable populations may need vaccine booster shots MORE on Thursday.