Here’s where President Biden’s Cabinet nominees stand

Delivering on his ambitious agenda will depend on getting his team up and running

By Daniel Wolfe, Kate Sullivan and Janie Boschma, CNN Updated March 2, 2021

President Joe Biden took office on January 20 without key members of his Cabinet in place after the Senate moved more slowly to schedule confirmation hearings than it had for previous presidents.

The chamber, now led by Democrats after six years of Republican control, can now confirm Cabinet nominations without Republican support. Vice President Kamala Harris, who was also sworn in on January 20, can act as a tie-breaking vote in a chamber made up of 50 Republican and 50 Democratic senators.

Confirmed No confirmation required Awaiting confirmation Core Cabinet

Several of Biden’s Cabinet picks would make history if confirmed by the Senate as the first woman or person of color to serve in their role. Many also have decades of experience in their field and served in President Barack Obama’s administration.

But whether the Senate will confirm these Cabinet nominations in an orderly fashion remains to be seen. Over the past two administrations, the typically uneventful swearing in of new Cabinet appointees has taken close to the first 100 days of their first terms as presidents.

How long it took each new president to confirm their Cabinet

Track how long it takes the Senate to approve the 15 core positions in Biden's Cabinet, compared to previous presidents' first terms. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had their core Cabinets in place relatively quickly, while it took nearly the first 100 days Barack Obama and Donald Trump were in office to finalize theirs.
Open cabinet positions:
Positions nominated:

The Cabinet

The average Cabinet nominee for both Trump and Obama's first terms was confirmed in 20 days. See how long it took for each of Biden's Cabinet members to be confirmed — starting from the day the President submitted their nomination to the Senate — and how it compares with the Trump-Obama average for each Cabinet position.

Kamala Harris
Vice President
A photo of Kamala Harris from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed

Harris has made history as the first female, first Black and first South Asian American vice president. She served as a United States senator from 2017 until this year, and ran for president in 2020, but dropped out during the Democratic primary. She was the first woman and first Black woman to serve as California’s attorney general. She was the first Black woman from California to serve in the US Senate, and second from any state, after Illinois' Carol Moseley Braun. Harris was also the first person of Indian descent to appear on a presidential ticket. She is the daughter of immigrants to the United States from Jamaica and India.

Antony Blinken
Secretary of State
A photo of Antony Blinken from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed

Blinken served in the Obama administration as the deputy secretary of state, assistant to the president and principal deputy national security adviser. He served as the national security adviser to Biden when he was vice president and was a deputy assistant to the president during Obama's first term.

Janet Yellen
Secretary of the Treasury
A photo of Janet Yellen from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed

Yellen is the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary. Yellen already made history as the first woman to have chaired the Federal Reserve. She previously served as the vice chair of the board, and president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Yellen was also chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers from 1997 to 1999.

Gen. Lloyd Austin
Secretary of Defense
A photo of Gen. Lloyd Austin from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed

Austin is the first Black person to lead the Pentagon. Austin was approved for a congressional waiver to be confirmed for the civilian post because federal law requires seven years of retirement from active duty before taking on the role. Austin retired from active-duty service only four years ago. He is a retired Army general and served as the commander of the US Central Command.

Merrick Garland
Attorney General
A photo of Merrick Garland from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Garland is a federal judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, and was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997. President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court after a vacancy was created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. But Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, refused for months to hold confirmation hearings or the required vote in the chamber. Garland previously served as principal associate deputy attorney general.

Deb Haaland
Secretary of the Interior
A photo of Deb Haaland from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Haaland would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary if confirmed by the Senate. Haaland made history in 2018 when she was elected as one of the two first female Native Americans in Congress. In 2016, Haaland traveled to North Dakota to take part in the protests over plans to build a pipeline underneath a key source of water for the Standing Rock Reservation.

Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
A photo of Tom Vilsack from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Vilsack served as agriculture secretary for the entirety of President Barack Obama's time in the White House. Vilsack is also the former governor of Iowa — in 1998, he became the first Democrat elected governor of the state in more than 30 years.

Gina Raimondo
Secretary of Commerce
A photo of Gina Raimondo from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Raimondo is the first woman to be governor of Rhode Island and had served since 2015. Raimondo was elected to serve as general treasurer of Rhode Island in 2010. She co-founded Point Judith Capital, an early stage venture capital firm.

Marty Walsh
Secretary of Labor
A photo of Marty Walsh from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Walsh has served as mayor of Boston since 2014 and is a veteran union operative. He led Boston's Building and Construction Trades Council, a group that represents ironworker and electrician unions, among others. 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.

Xavier Becerra
Secretary of Health & Human Services
A photo of Xavier Becerra from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Becerra would be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services if confirmed by the Senate. He currently serves as California's attorney general, and is the first Latino to hold that office in the history of the state. As the state’s attorney general, Becerra has been a chief defender of the Affordable Care Act in court. Becerra served 12 terms in Congress as a member of the US House of Representatives.

Marcia Fudge
Secretary of Housing & Urban Development
A photo of Marcia Fudge from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Fudge has represented Ohio's 11th Congressional District since 2008. She previously chaired the Congressional Black Caucus. Prior to running for Congress, Fudge made history as the first woman and first African American to be elected mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio.

Pete Buttigieg
Secretary of Transportation
A photo of Pete Buttigieg from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Buttigieg made history as the first out LGBTQ Cabinet secretary approved by the Senate. The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor is the youngest member nominated for Biden's Cabinet, at 38 years old. The former mayor is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party and rose to national prominence during the 2020 Democratic primary.

Jennifer Granholm
Secretary of Energy
A photo of Jennifer Granholm from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Granholm served two terms as governor of Michigan, and was the first woman to be elected governor of the state. In that role, Granholm worked closely with the auto industry, the dominant industry in the Great Lakes State, which could help Biden as he attempts to move the country toward electric vehicles. Granholm was also the first woman to serve as Michigan’s attorney general.

Miguel Cardona
Secretary of Education
A photo of Miguel Cardona from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Cardona, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico to Connecticut, is a high-profile Latino serving in Biden’s Cabinet. Cardona has been a leading proponent of sending children back to school, saying too many students are falling behind during virtual learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. Most recently, he served as Connecticut's commissioner of education.

Denis McDonough
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
A photo of Denis McDonough from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

McDonough served as chief of staff during Obama's entire second term, and also worked as deputy national security adviser. He chaired the National Security Council's Deputies Committee, which is responsible for formulating the administration's national security and foreign policy. McDonough also previously served as the chief of staff for the national security staff and as the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.

Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security
A photo of Alejandro Mayorkas from the shoulders up.
No confirmation needed.

Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He was deputy secretary of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, and served as the director of the DHS's United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Mayorkas oversaw the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was an executive action under Obama that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation.

Cabinet-level status

A photo of Ron Klain from shoulders up.
Ron Klain
Chief of Staff
No confirmation needed

Klain is one of Biden's most trusted advisers, and served as Biden’s chief of staff when he was vice president in the Obama administration. Klain brings unique expertise to a moment defined by the coronavirus pandemic — he was appointed by then-President Barack Obama to lead the response to the Ebola crisis in 2014. Klain previously served as chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton administration, and has been the go-to operative for debate preparation for Democratic candidates dating as far back as Bill Clinton.

A photo of Michael Regan from shoulders up.
Michael Regan
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
No confirmation needed

If confirmed by the Senate, Regan would be the first African American man to lead the EPA. Regan has been serving as the secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality. He led the Environmental Defense Fund's efforts to combat the impacts of the climate crisis and air pollution, and worked at the EPA during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

A photo of Neera Tanden from shoulders up.
Neera Tanden
Office of Management & Budget Director
No confirmation needed

Tanden would have been the first woman of color and first South Asian American to become director of the Office of Management and Budget, but the White House withdrew her nomination on March 2 when it became clear she did not have the votes to be confirmed. Tanden faced fierce opposition from Senate Republicans and some Democrats over past statements on social media. She is the CEO and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, and served in the Obama and Clinton administrations, and is expected to have a role in Biden's administration.

A photo of Katherine Tai from shoulders up.
Katherine Tai
US Trade Representative
No confirmation needed

Tai would be the first woman of color to serve as US trade representative if confirmed by the Senate. She currently is the top Democratic trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee. Tai's nomination will be seen as a clear sign that Biden is serious about his campaign promise to enforce trade rules on China. She is seen as an expert on China trade policy and oversaw trade enforcement for China during the Obama administration.

A photo of Isabel Guzman from shoulders up.
Isabel Guzman
Small Business Administrator
No confirmation needed

Guzman currently serves as 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 Small Business Administration, the office she will now lead. Before her career in public service, Guzman was a small business entrepreneur.

A photo of Avril Haines from shoulders up.
Avril Haines
National Intelligence Director
No confirmation needed

Haines is the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence. She served as assistant to the president and principal deputy national security adviser to Obama. Haines previously served as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

A photo of Linda Thomas-Greenfield from shoulders up.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield
UN Ambassador
No confirmation needed

Thomas-Greenfield is a career diplomat who returns to public service after retiring from a 35-year career with the US Foreign Service in 2017. Greenfield held several posts in the Obama administration, including assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, director general of the Foreign Service and director of human resources. She has served as an ambassador to Liberia, and has also been posted to Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria and Jamaica.

A photo of Cecilia Rouse from shoulders up.
Cecilia Rouse
Council of Economic Advisers, chair
No confirmation needed

Rouse would be the first woman of color to chair the Council of Economic Advisers if confirmed by the Senate. Rouse previously served as a member of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. She also worked at the National Economic Council in the Clinton administration as a special assistant to the president.

A photo of John Kerry from shoulders up.
John Kerry
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
No confirmation needed

Kerry’s appointment as Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate underscores Biden’s commitment to tackling the global crisis. Kerry has long worked on climate issues, and as secretary of state during the Obama administration, he played a key role in negotiating the Paris agreement. In 2019, Kerry co-founded a bipartisan initiative of world leaders and celebrities to combat the climate crisis called World War Zero. Kerry will also sit on the National Security Council.

A photo of Eric Lander from shoulders up.
Eric Lander
Presidential Science Advisor
No confirmation needed

Lander is Biden’s nominee to direct the Office of Science and Technology Policy and will serve as a presidential science adviser, a position that Biden has elevated to Cabinet-level for the first time. Lander served as external co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Obama administration. He helped lead the Human Genome Project, and is the president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a non-profit biomedical research institute.

Photos: Getty Images, Associated Press, Shutterstock

Data: White House and former presidents’ archives, US Senate, Congress.gov