Joe Biden won’t be sworn in for another 64 days, but the President-elect is already under pressure from activist groups to bring progressive leaders into his administration — and close its doors to establishment figures with cozy relationships to Wall Street, defense contractors and the fossil fuel industry.
The pressure campaign has played out in public, with the release of open letters and lists of acceptable candidates for top Cabinet positions, via private calls with potential nominees, and on social media, where progressive groups have warned the incoming administration against reneging on Biden’s promise to forge an aggressive new path in the fight against climate change.
Top progressives have mostly sounded a cautiously optimistic tone following the release of Biden’s “agency review teams” and his quick decision to name longtime adviser Ron Klain, who has built bonds across ideological lines, as his White House chief of staff.
But the cutting backlash in response to the appointment of Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond to a top West Wing post on Tuesday underscored the fraught nature of the relationship.
There are also potential fights on the horizon and the uncertainty surrounding control of the Senate could further complicate a detente that has largely carried over from the campaign.
If Democrats fail to win both runoff elections in Georgia early next year, the body will remain under the control of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — and everything from Biden’s legislative agenda to his Cabinet nominations would likely face partisan blockades.
Richmond’s installation as a senior adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement drew a harsh rebuke from climate groups, led by the Sunrise Movement.
There are also concerns among some progressives over whether the coalition has the capacity to speak with one voice on a broad range of issues, including arenas where it is less organized and engaged, like national security.
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