Biden introduces commerce and labor secretary nominees

“Today I am pleased to announce the latest members of our economic team. And with this, with their announcement, I am proud to announce we have finished naming our Cabinet, saving the best for last here,” Biden said at an event in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Twenty-four outstanding women and men who will get our country moving again and who are going to restore trust in our government again, all of whom are ready on day one,” Biden said.

The two picks mark the completion of Biden’s announcements for his Cabinet secretary nominees, less than two weeks from the President-elect’s inauguration. The only outstanding pick for a top-level position is CIA director.

Biden on Thursday also announced Isabel Guzman, the director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, to lead the Small Business Administration and Don Graves, who was the executive director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness at the Obama White House, as his nominee for deputy secretary of commerce.

“This team will help us emerge from the most inequitable economic and jobs crisis in modern history by building an economy where every American is in on the deal,” Biden said in a statement. “They share my belief that the middle class built this country and that unions built the middle class.”

Raimondo is the first woman governor of Rhode Island, and has served in the role since her election in 2014. She was among the women considered to serve as Biden’s vice president, and has been praised for her leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic. Raimondo was also considered for Biden’s health and human services secretary, but The New York Times reported last month that labor unions helped block Raimondo from becoming his pick to lead HHS because of her record on pension changes.

Walsh is a veteran union operative and rose to lead Boston’s Building and Construction Trades Council, a group that represents ironworker and electrician unions, among others. Walsh has been serving as Boston’s mayor since 2013, and was a rumored potential Labor pick in 2016 if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency. Walsh’s selection is a victory for AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who rallied his federation of 56 unions to back the Boston mayor soon after Biden won the election.

Guzman is the director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, a government office that works to support and grow small businesses in America’s most populous state. Prior to taking over the state office, Guzman was the deputy chief of staff and senior adviser at the US Small Business Administration, the office she will now lead.

Graves served in the Obama White House as the executive director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and as the deputy assistant secretary for small business, community development and housing policy at the US Department of Treasury. Graves was previously a partner with Graves, Horton, Askew & Johns, LLC. He was the former director of public policy for the business roundtable and was previously a policy adviser for the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Domestic Finance.

The announcements come days after pro-Trump supporters stormed and breached the US Capitol. Five people are dead, including a US Capitol Police officer, after President Donald Trump urged his supporters to fight against the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes in Congress, repeating lies about the election being stolen from him and promising to join them.

Biden on Thursday slammed the police for their different treatment of the pro-Trump mob and Black Lives Matter protesters during demonstrations last year. The day prior, he said the rioting at the US Capitol amounted to an “unprecedented assault” on US democracy, and called for Trump to immediately go on national television and “demand an end to this siege.”

CNN’s Greg Krieg and Dan Merica contributed to this report.

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