Progressives unveil Biden Cabinet wish list

Two top progressive groups on Wednesday urged President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE to fill his Cabinet with their allies, the most explicit effort yet for left-wing activists to influence the future 46th president's administration. 

Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement, a group of youth climate change activists, pressed Biden to nominate progressives such as Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC Zombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers Progressives threaten to block bipartisan infrastructure proposal MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC On The Money: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process on Wednesday | Four states emerge as test case for cutting off jobless benefits Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC MORE (D-Mass.) to top posts and called on him to establish a White House Office of Climate Mobilization dedicated specifically to climate change.

“President-elect Biden must embrace this historic moment by keeping the party united and appointing progressive leaders who will help him usher in the most progressive Democratic administration in generations,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats. “Progressives make up close to half the party in Congress and deserve representation in the next administration.” 


The two groups highlighted their preferences for a number of climate-related posts, including Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOvernight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve The Hill's Morning Report - Biden on Putin: 'a worthy adversary' New Mexico Democrat Stansbury sworn into Haaland's old seat MORE (D-N.M.), one of the first Indigenous women to serve in the House, to lead the Interior Department; Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeBeyond California, a record year for recalls Seattle is first major US city to see 70 percent of residents fully vaccinated, mayor says Rivers, hydropower and climate resilience MORE (D) to serve as assistant to the president on climate mobilization; and Mustafa Ali of the National Wildlife Federation to be tapped as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. 

They also recommended Sanders to lead the Labor Department, Warren to helm the Treasury Department, Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeBlack Democrats press leaders for reparations vote this month Overnight Defense: Biden participates in NATO summit | White House backs 2002 AUMF repeal | Top general says no plans for airstrikes to help Afghan forces after withdrawal White House backs repeal of 2002 war authorization MORE (D-Calif.) to serve as secretary of State, Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith EllisonMinneosta AG's office to prosecute case against officer charged in killing of Daunte Wright State trial for former officers charged in George Floyd's death moved to next year Lawyer for former officer charged in George Floyd death alleges witness coercion MORE (D) to lead the Justice Department, Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHouse Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias Omar: I wasn't equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries MORE (D-Mich.) to oversee the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalWhite House to Democrats: Get ready to go it alone on infrastructure Black Democrats press leaders for reparations vote this month Jayapal to Dems: Ditch bipartisanship, go it alone on infrastructure MORE (D-Wash.) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Beyond their top picks, the groups also floated alternative choices who would be sympathetic to progressive causes. 

The suggestions come amid backbiting between left-wing and moderate lawmakers and activists over the makeup of the next White House and a burgeoning blame game over last week's down-ballot disappointments in the House, Senate and state legislatures.

Progressives and centrists had enjoyed a détente from the battles they waged in 2016 as they united to unseat President TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE in the 2020 cycle. Biden made a point of appealing to liberal groups, forming unity task forces that included Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC Wray suggests limits on FBI social media tracking a 'lesson learned' after Jan. 6 Puerto Rico's former governor stages a comeback MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash and adopting some policies of his progressive rivals after he clinched the Democratic nomination, including Warren’s bankruptcy plan.


But with the goal of flipping the White House accomplished, divisions between liberals and moderates have split open again.

The two sides have traded blame over whether Biden’s victory means he has a progressive mandate or whether the facts that Democrats lost House seats and have thus far failed to flip the Senate are signs that moderation is needed. Liberals have claimed they were responsible for energizing the party base during the 2020 cycle, while centrists have said slogans like “defund the police” and the Green New Deal contributed to their down-ballot losses.

“There is no denying Republicans levied salient rhetorical attacks against Democrats, but this will continue to happen as it does every cycle,” progressive groups said in a memo Wednesday. “If we abandon our core progressive base and agenda, Democrats will not hold onto the House majority in the 2022 midterms and will have no hope of gaining ground in the Senate.”

Still, with Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process on Wednesday | Four states emerge as test case for cutting off jobless benefits GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' McConnell presses for 'actual consequences' in disclosure of tax data MORE (R-Ky.), expected to keep control of the Senate, it is unclear how easily Biden could get progressive Cabinet nominees confirmed even if he wanted to.

And with some picks such as Sanders and Warren hailing from states with Republican governors, opening up a vacancy in their Senate seats could lead to temporary replacements who could expand the GOP majority. 

But the two progressive groups indicated McConnell should not be a roadblock to cobbling together a progressive administration.

“Democrats have a once-in-a-generation moment to deliver policies at the scale of the crises our generation is facing,” said Prakash. “The Senate can’t be an excuse; whether or not Mitch McConnell remains the Majority Leader, we need an Office of Climate Mobilization and visionary personnel in the Biden administration who are ready to use every tool in their disposal to create millions of good-paying green jobs.”