Biden administration releases names of acting agency heads as Cabinet awaits Senate confirmation

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Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY
·3 min read
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WASHINGTON – Hours after President Joe Biden was sworn into office, White House officials released the names of the administration's acting agency heads as the president's Cabinet picks and other top political appointees await Senate confirmation.

The move allows Biden to install members of his own team rather than rely on any of former President Donald Trump's political appointees left within the federal government after Jan. 20.

The Republican-led Senate has been slow to schedule confirmation hearings for Biden's picks in the weeks between the election and Inauguration Day. By comparison, Trump had his defense and homeland secretaries confirmed on his inauguration in 2016 while former President Barack Obama had six of his nominees in place by the time he was sworn into office in 2009.

The Senate began confirmation hearings the day before inauguration for five of Biden's Cabinet picks, including Janet Yellen, nominee for Treasury Secretary, Tony Blinken, nominee for secretary of state, Avril Haines, nominee for director of national intelligence, Lloyd Austin, nominee for Defense secretary and Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for Homeland Security secretary.

Pete Buttigieg, Biden's nominee for Transportation secretary, is scheduled for a confirmation hearing Thursday.

The list confirmed an earlier report by USA TODAY that Biden planned to tap career Justice official Monty Wilkinson to serve as acting attorney general until the Senate weighs the confirmation of nominee Merrick Garland.

More: 'This is America's day': Biden inaugurated as 46th president, Harris sworn in as vice president

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Many of those chosen are career civil servants, according to White House officials. Among those officials chosen as acting agency heads until Biden's nominees are confirmed are:

  • David Norquist, Department of Defense

  • Dan Smith, Department of State

  • David Cohen, Central Intelligence Agency

  • Norris Cochran, Department of Health and Human Services

  • David Pekoske, Department of Homeland Security

  • David Huizenga, Department of Energy

  • Monty Wilkinson, Department of Justice

  • Al Stewart, Department of Labor

  • Andy Baukol, Department of Treasury

  • Lora Shiao, Office of the Director of National Intelligence

  • Maria Pagan, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

  • Rob Fairweather, Office of Management and Budget

  • Katy Kale, General Services Administration

  • Steve Jurczyk, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  • Ann Eilers, National Endowment for the Arts

  • Adam Wolfson, National Endowment for the Humanities

  • Regina LaBelle, Office of National Drug Control Policy

  • Kathy McGettigan, Office of Personnel Management

  • Tami Perriello, Small Business Association

  • Andrew Saul, Social Security Administration

  • Gloria Steele, U.S. Agency for International Development

  • Dev Jagadesan, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation

  • Rich Mills, U.S. Mission to the United Nations

John Carlin, a former assistant attorney general in Obama administration, is President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to serve as acting deputy attorney general until nominee Lisa Monaco can be confirmed by the Senate, according to a source who is not authorized to comment publicly.

Biden's nominees are likely to be confirmed after Democrats won a razor thin majority in the Senate following two runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month. Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a vote to break the 50-50 tie in the upper chamber.

Harris, who sworn in Wednesday as the first woman of color to hold the office, is set to preside over the swearing in of three new Democratic senators including Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, and Alex Padilla of California, who is set to replace her.

Contributing: Kevin Johnson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden names interim agency heads as Cabinet awaits Senate confirmation