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Biden introduces Commerce, Labor, Small Business Administration nominees

Biden introduces Commerce, Labor, Small Business Administration nominees
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President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenKaty Perry and her 'Firework' close out inauguration TV special Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Tom Hanks: After years of 'troubling rancor,' Inauguration Day 'is about witnessing the permanence of our American ideal' MORE on Friday formally introduced his nominees to lead the Commerce Department, Labor Department and Small Business Administration while urging the Senate to quickly confirm key Cabinet picks.

“I’m proud to announce we have finished naming our Cabinet members, saving the best for last,” Biden said while announcing his economic team in Wilmington, Del. “This Cabinet, that I promised you and I’ve fulfilled that promise, looks like America.”

Biden touted Rhode Island Gov. Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoWhat Biden's Cabinet picks mean for the hardest-hit US industry Record number of women to serve in Biden Cabinet Biden introduces Commerce, Labor, Small Business Administration nominees MORE (D), his choice for Commerce secretary, as “one of the most effective, forward-thinking governors in the United States of America.” 

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The president-elect noted that as governor she created a program to help minority-owned and women-owned businesses access capital, worked with employers to design skills-training programs and put Rhode Island on the path to achieving 100 percent renewable energy.

“She knows what her fellow governors, Democrats and Republicans alike, are dealing with,” Biden said.

Raimondo is the first female governor of the state and has served in the role since 2015. Before that, she was general treasurer and has a background in venture capital.

“The mission of the Commerce Department is a very simple one: to help spur good paying jobs,” Raimondo said Friday while appearing at the event.

Biden’s choice for Labor secretary is Boston Mayor Marty WalshMarty WalshFive reasons Marty Walsh could be an excellent choice for secretary of Labor Biden introduces Commerce, Labor, Small Business Administration nominees Biden says he weighed tapping Sanders for Labor secretary MORE (D), a favorite of major labor unions and a former union leader in Boston. Biden called him a “good friend and standup guy.”

The president-elect also called him “tough as nails,” sharing that Walsh was diagnosed with cancer at age 7, beat it at age 11, and then went on to join labor unions and graduate from college at age 42. 

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“Marty understands like I do that the middle class built this country and unions built the middle class,” Biden said.

He said Walsh has fought for a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave and front-line workers.

“This is one of the most important departments to me. I trust Mayor Walsh and I’m honored he’s accepting,” Biden said.

Walsh, accepting the nomination, said the word labor “means everything to me.”

“Working people have been struggling for a long time under the erosion of their rights and the deep inequalities of race, gender, and class,” Walsh said.

Biden announced that he seriously considered nominating Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Sanders's inauguration look promptly gets a bobblehead Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration MORE (I-Vt.) for the Labor secretary position.

“But after Tuesday's result in Georgia, giving Democrats control of the Senate on a tied vote, Bernie and I agreed — matter of fact, Bernie said — that we cannot put control of the Senate at risk on the outcome of a special election in Vermont,” he said.

Democrats won both Senate runoffs in Georgia and thereby captured the Senate majority, given a 50-50 split in the chamber that allows Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisKaty Perry and her 'Firework' close out inauguration TV special Biden's first foreign leader call to be with Canada's Trudeau on Friday Harris now 'the most influential woman' in American politics MORE able to cast tie-breaking votes.

Biden on Friday also named Isabel Guzman to lead the Small Business Administration (SBA). Guzman is currently director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate and previously worked at the SBA under former President Obama.

Biden said Guzman “works tirelessly to ensure that everyone with an entrepreneurial spark has a fair and equal shot to get off the ground and succeed.”

He noted that Guzman will be in charge of rescuing small businesses in crisis from the coronavirus pandemic and help provide capital to entrepreneurs.

“Together with you and with the exceptional and diverse team you’re assembling, I am eager to build our economy back better in every community,” Guzman said.

She noted that this is a “cross-roads moment” for small businesses.

Biden also announced Don Graves as deputy secretary of Commerce, who he said is a longtime and trusted adviser of the president-elect. Graves is a former domestic and economic policy director for Biden as vice president.

Biden said his Cabinet, now that it’s been fully announced, is evenly composed with women and men, majority people of color, and includes over a dozen history-making selections, such as the first openly gay and Native America members.

He called on the Senate to confirm key Cabinet officials as close to Inauguration Day as possible, especially for the secretary of State, Defense, Treasury and Homeland Security posts.