Projected US President-elect Joe Biden is facing mounting pressure within his own Democratic Party over whom to select as his defense secretary, with Black leaders urging him to select an African American and others encouraging him to choose a woman.
Biden on Monday revealed that he plans to announce his pick for US defense secretary on Friday.
However, a coalition of at least seven progressive groups has urged Biden to avoid Flournoy in an open letter viewed by the Associated Press (AP). In the letter, the coalition warns Biden that Flournoy, with an “opaque history of private-sector activity,” has a record of “ill-advised policy decisions,” referencing Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Afghanistan.
Other potential contenders for the role include retired Army General Lloyd Austin and Jeh Johnson, a former US secretary of homeland security, both of whom are Black. Johnson also served as the general counsel of the Department of Defense during the early years of the Obama administration.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MO), a Congressional Black Caucus member, revealed to Politico that “if either [Austin or Johnson] were selected, [she] would be happy.”
“A lot of people are anxiously awaiting to see what the Cabinet looks like once it’s completed, but also note the fact that the African American numbers need to be better than what they are at this point,” Thompson added.
“His star is rising,” the official noted, adding that Austin would be the “controlled option.”
However, others have argued that Austin, who has not been out of the military for the required seven years and would need a waiver from Congress to become secretary of defense, is a poor choice.
Biden has already revealed his picks for his national security team: Tony Blinken for secretary of state, Alejandro Mayorkas for homeland security secretary, Jake Sullivan for national security adviser, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the US ambassador to the United Nations, Janet Yellen as the designated secretary of the Treasury and Wally Adeyemo as the deputy secretary of the Treasury, The Hill reported.
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