by Jordan Chan
Local News Editor
President-elect Joseph Biden announced on Jan. 7 that he will appoint former federal appeals judge Merick Garland to the position of U.S. Attorney General. If confirmed, Garland will look into the ongoing criminal investigation of Hunter Biden, Joseph Biden’s son, as well as criminal charges against President Donald Trump and his associates. Not only would Garland examine Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol building, he will also look into inquiries regarding Trump’s last four years in office. Most expect Garland to differ greatly from former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr. They expect that Garland will make major changes to the Justice Department, as civil rights and national policing policies dominate the national conversation.
Many know Garland for his role in prosecuting the bomber of a government building in Oklahoma City in 1995. President Barack Obama also recognized Garland four years ago by nominating the judge to the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. However, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell refused to hold a hearing for Garland.
Additionally, Biden will appoint Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to the position of Labor Secretary, with the support of labor unions across the United States. Walsh is a longtime union leader who acted previously as the president of Laborers Local 223 and leader of the Boston Trades Council. During the pandemic, Walsh helped Boston maintain local businesses and public schooling. He also helped provide citizens with widespread coronavirus testing. His selection will open up a new race for the Boston mayoral seat. Walsh will join the cabinet during a critical time where millions of Americans lack jobs and fear a loss of unemployment benefits. Biden had previously considered progressive Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for Labor Secretary, but ultimately decided against it, out of fear that it would put the Democrats in danger of losing control of the U.S. Senate.
Some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders hoped Biden would confirm at least one Asian American for a secretary-level position in his cabinet. Biden had considered candidate Julie Su for Labor Secretary, but chose Walsh instead. Biden ended up appointing two Asian American women — Neera Tanden and Catherine Tai — to positions below the secretary level. Biden’s diverse cabinet will also feature Isabel Guzman heading the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Deb Haaland heading the Department of the Interior. Guzman is the first Latina Biden nominated to a cabinet-level post, and she served on the SBA during the Obama administration. Haaland is the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.
Biden also tapped Gina M. Raimondo, Rhode Island’s first female Governor, for the position of Commerce Secretary. In her time as Governor, Raimondo minimized the number of unnecessary regulations on businesses, cut taxes, and supported the training programs for various jobs. Before she was a governor, Raimondo attended Yale University and Oxford University, worked at Village Ventures, an investment firm, and co-founded a venture capital firm. Some progressives oppose Raimondo’s nomination, and many wonder whether she has what it takes to control the ongoing economic battle between the U.S. and China, as well as, issues regarding Chinese technology that surfaced during the Trump Administration.
(Sources: NY Times, The Washington Post, AP, SF Chronicle, Politico, Chicago Tribune, NPR)