Sanders, Warren under scrutiny as Biden weighs Cabinet picks

WILMINGTON, Del. — Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, leaders of the Democratic Party’s left wing, are at risk of being excluded from the senior ranks of President-elect Joe Biden’s administration as the incoming president balances the demands of his party’s progressive base against the political realities of a narrowly divided Senate.

The liberal New England senators remain interested in serving in Biden’s Cabinet, but even some of their allies recognize they face major political hurdles getting there. Sensing disappointment, progressive leaders have reluctantly begun to express support for less-controversial alternatives.

Warren, whose political career has been defined by efforts to diminish the power of big banks, is the progressive movement’s top choice for Treasury secretary. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, reiterated his desire to serve as Biden’s Labor secretary on Thursday, describing himself as particularly well-suited “to focus on the many crises facing working families in this country.”

Whether he is included in Biden’s cabinet or not, Sanders warned Biden not to freeze out progressives as he shapes his government.

“It seems to me pretty clear that progressive views need to be expressed within a Biden administration,” Sanders told The Associated Press. “It would be, for example, enormously insulting if Biden put together a ‘team of rivals’ — and there’s some discussion that that’s what he intends to do — which might include Republicans and conservative Democrats — but which ignored the progressive community. I think that would be very, very unfortunate.”

The scrutiny on Biden’s staffing decisions reflects the tremendous pressure the president-elect faces as he cobbles together a senior team to execute his policy priorities drawing from his party’s disparate factions. He will almost certainly face criticism no matter whom he picks for the most powerful positions, but he can perhaps least afford to lose the support of his vocal progressive base.

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In a nod to the left wing, Biden’s transition team has hired Analilia Mejia, a Sanders adviser who served as his presidential campaign’s political director, to work on progressive outreach. It’s unlikely, however, that mid-level hires during the transition will be enough to satisfy progressives.

Biden told reporters Thursday that he had finalized his choice for Treasury secretary and said the pick would be “someone who will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic party, moderates and progressives.” He sidestepped a specific question about Sanders joining his Cabinet as he walked off stage.

Likely facing a divided Congress that could push back against the vast majority of his agenda, Biden is eyeing a series of executive actions to be implemented by his Cabinet that would force significant changes in health care, banking, environmental regulation, immigration and foreign policy, among other major issues.

Biden’s transition team declined to comment publicly about Sanders or Warren.

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Source:: The Denver Post – Politics

      

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