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Biden Taps Marty Walsh for Labor Secretary, Gina Raimondo for Commerce Secretary - Reports

© REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNSTU.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks on national security and foreign policy at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S. December 28, 2020.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks on national security and foreign policy at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S. December 28, 2020.  - Sputnik International
President-elect Joe Biden is currently in the process of assembling his advisers and Cabinet officials as his January 20 inauguration, which will mark the commencement of a new four-year presidential term, draws closer.

Biden this week has selected Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to serve as secretary of commerce, multiple outlets, including Politico, reported. 

Raimondo, a former venture capitalist who worked at a fund backed by Bain Capital, spearheaded her own venture firm in Rhode Island, Point Judith Capital, before she was elected the state's general treasurer in 2011. 

She was elected as the governor of Rhode Island in 2014, becoming the first woman to hold the position. According to the New York Times, as Rhode Island governor, Raimondo introduced training programs, slashed taxes and removed regulations to help support businesses. She also served as head of the Democratic Governors Association in 2019.

If approved by the Senate, Raimondo will be responsible for a diverse department that manages weather forecasts, ocean fisheries and international product standards, among other responsibilities.

According to multiple sources, Biden has also tapped Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former top union leader, to serve as his labor secretary. 

Other contenders for the position included Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), former Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris, California Labor Secretary Julie Su and American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Chief Economist Bill Spriggs, Politico reported.

Walsh and Biden have “strong personal ties,” according to Politico, with Biden speaking at the mayor’s 2017 inauguration. 

“He’s a friend and knows Joe: They’ve worked together on numerous occasions,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told Politico in November. “They have the relationship I think is necessary.”

However, the decision to nominate Walsh will likely be a disappointment to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lawmakers, who have encouraged Biden to choose an Asian American for a secretary-level position in his Cabinet.

Biden has selected two Asian American women for his Cabinet: Neera Tanden who is of Indian descent, as director of the Office of Management and Budget; and Katherine Tai, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, as US trade representative. However, neither of those positions is at the secretary level.

US lawmakers have repeatedly called on Biden to build an inclusive government, with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) pointing out that the Biden administration could be the first one since President Bill Clinton’s in which AAPIs do not have a secretary role in the Cabinet. 

“AAPIs are the fastest-growing racial population in the country and came out in record numbers to elect Joe Biden to be our next President of the United States. And yet, for the first time in over two decades, we are facing the possibility that there might not be a single AAPI Cabinet Secretary in a presidential administration. Let us be clear: that outcome is unacceptable,” CAPAC said in a statement last month.

In addition to Tanden and Tai, Biden has selected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), whose mother emigrated from India, as his vice president. Other Cabinet nominations of people of color include Xavier Becerra for health and human services secretary, Cecilia Rouse for chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Linda Thomas-Greenfield for United Nations ambassador and Alejandro Mayorkas for homeland security secretary.
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