Joe Biden presidential transition

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Biden Administration
Joe Biden • Kamala Harris

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Transition: White House senior staffAgency review teamsCertification of electoral votes2020 presidential election

Prior to taking office on January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden (D) and his team began preparing for the transition between presidential administrations.

These activities include launching agency review teams, selecting senior White House staff, identifying nominees for the Cabinet and other key Senate-confirmed positions, training the advisors who will guide nominees through the confirmation process, and developing policy agenda and implementation plans.[1]

This page provides an overview of the Biden presidential transition team and news related to the transition of power between the Trump and Biden administrations.

It includes the following sections:

Cabinet and Cabinet-level presidential appointments

See also: Joe Biden's Cabinet and Confirmation process for Joe Biden's Cabinet nominees

President Joe Biden (D) identified candidates for 15 executive agency positions that comprise the president's Cabinet. This tradition is rooted in Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the Constitution, which states that the president "may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices."[2]

The vice president and several other administrators, directors, and representatives are also part of the Cabinet. Click here for an overview of the remaining positions to be filled and potential appointees for each.

The following individuals are members of Biden's Cabinet. They have either been confirmed by the U.S. Senate or hold a position that does not require Senate confirmation.

Kamala Harris
Vice President

Tony Blinken
Secretary of State

Lloyd Austin
Secretary of Defense

Janet Yellen
Secretary of the Treasury

Merrick Garland
Attorney General

Gina Raimondo
Secretary of Commerce

Pete Buttigieg
Secretary of Transportation

Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security

Jennifer Granholm
Secretary of Energy

Miguel Cardona
Secretary of Education

Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture

Debra Haaland
Secretary of the Interior

Xavier Becerra
Secretary of Health and Human Services

Julie Su
Acting Secretary of Labor

Denis McDonough
Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Marcia Fudge
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Avril Haines
Director of National Intelligence

Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Katherine Tai
U.S. Trade Representative

Isabel Guzman
Administrator of the Small Business Administration

Cecilia Rouse
Council of Economic Advisers Chair

Michael Regan
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

Shalanda Young
Director of the Office of Management and Budget

Arati Prabhakar
Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

William J. Burns
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Jeff Zients
White House Chief of Staff

Acting agency leadership

With no Cabinet or agency directors confirmed by his inauguration, Biden announced the following acting leadership across several key agencies on January 20, 2021:[3]

  • Central Intelligence Agency, David Cohen
  • Department of Defense, David Norquist
  • Department of Energy, David Huizenga
  • Department of Health and Human Services, Norris Cochran
  • Department of Homeland Security, David Pekoske
  • Department of Justice, Monty Wilkinson
  • Department of Labor, Al Stewart
  • Department of State, Daniel B. Smith
  • Department of Treasury, Andy Baukol
  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Lora Shiao
  • General Services Administration, Katy Kale
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Steve Jurczyk
  • National Endowment for the Arts, Ann Eilers
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Adam Wolfson
  • Office of Management and Budget, Rob Fairweather
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy, Regina LaBelle
  • Office of Personnel Management, Kathy McGettigan
  • Small Business Administration, Tami Perriello
  • Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul
  • U.S. Agency for International Development, Gloria Steele
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Dat Tran
  • U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Dev Jagadesan
  • U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Rich Mills
  • Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Maria Pagan

White House senior staff

The Biden Transition announced the following individuals would serve as White House senior staff members on November 17, 2020.[4]

White House senior staff
Office Appointee Previous experience
Senior Advisor to Jill Biden Anthony Bernal Deputy campaign manager, 2020 Biden presidential campaign
Senior Advisor to the President Mike Donilon Chief strategist, 2020 Biden presidential campaign
Chief of Staff Ron Klain Chief of staff, Vice President Joe Biden
Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O'Malley Dillon Campaign manager, 2020 Biden presidential campaign
White House Counsel Dana Remus General counsel, 2020 Biden presidential campaign
Chief of Staff to Jill Biden Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon Deputy assistant secretary of state, Obama administration
Counselor to the President Steve Ricchetti Chief of staff, Vice President Joe Biden
Senior Advisor to the President Cedric Richmond U.S. representative, Louisana's 2nd Congressional District
Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond U.S. representative, Louisana's 2nd Congressional District
Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Rodriguez Deputy campaign manager, 2020 Biden presidential campaign
Director of Oval Office Operations Annie Tomasini Deputy press secretary, Vice President Joe Biden

The following individuals were announced as senior White House communications staff members on November 29, 2020.[5]

White House senior communications staff
Office Appointee Previous experience
Communications Director for the First Lady Elizabeth Alexander Senior advisor, 2020 Biden presidential campaign
White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield Deputy campaign manager, 2020 Biden presidential campaign
Communications Director for the Vice President Ashley Etienne Senior advisor, 2020 Biden presidential campaign
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Chief of staff to Sen. Kamala Harris, 2020 Biden presidential campaign
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki White House communications director, Obama administration
Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for the Vice President Symone Sanders Senior advisor, 2020 Biden presidential campaign

Ascertainment of the presidential election

Under the Presidential Transition Act, the administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for ascertaining the presidential election winner. Doing so allows the president-elect to begin to receive office space and support services in the transition between administrations.[6][7] With the exception of the 2000 presidential election, the GSA administrator has typically made this ascertainment shortly after the presidential election.[8]

The GSA ascertained the results of the election on November 23, 2020, identifying Biden as the apparent winner. GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter, "Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision."[9] The ascertainment came 20 days after the election was held.

In the aftermath of the election, President Donald Trump (R) contested the race and launched several lawsuits and recount requests in battleground states.[10]

A Biden transition official said on November 9, 2020, "We believe that it is clear that President-elect Biden and Kamala Harris should be entitled to all GSA functions and all functions across government and we’re asking the GSA administrator to make a proper ascertainment. And we believe that it’s been very, very clear that we are the winners in this election."[10]


Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on January 20, 2021. He delivered his inaugural address, before Rev. Silvester Beaman, a pastor from Delaware, concluded the ceremony with a benediction.

Former Sen. Kamala Harris (D) was sworn in as the 49th vice president of the United States shortly before noon by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Due to security concerns stemming from the breach of the U.S. Capitol, up to 25,000 National Guard members were expected to be in Washington, D.C. The National Mall was closed to the general public, and there was no public parade from the Capitol to the White House.

Under the 20th Amendment, the terms of President Donald Trump (R) and Vice President Mike Pence (R) ended at noon. Trump declined to participate in the inauguration and departed from the White House at approximately 8:15 a.m. on January 20, 2021, for Palm Beach, Florida. The last president to skip his successor's inauguration for political reasons was Andrew Johnson in 1869.

Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board

The Biden-Harris Transition announced the members of its Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board on November 9, 2020.[11]

Biden said in a statement, "The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations."[11]

Biden Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board
Name Position Previous experience
David Kessler Co-chair Former FDA commissioner
Vivek Murthy Co-chair Former surgeon general of the United States
Marcella Nunez-Smith Co-chair Associate dean, Yale School of Medicine
Luciana Borio Member Senior fellow for global health, Council on Foreign Relations
Rick Bright Member Director, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority
Ezekiel Emanuel Member Chair, Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University Pennsylvania
Atul Gawande Member Professor, Harvard Medical School
Celine Gounder Member Clinical assistant professor, NYU Grossman School of Medicine
Julie Morita Member Executive vice president, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Michael Osterholm Member Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
Loyce Pace Member Executive director, Global Health Council
Robert Rodriguez Member Professor, UCSF School of Medicine
Eric Goosby Member Professor, UCSF School of Medicine

Agency review teams

The Biden-Harris Transition announced members of its agency review teams on November 10, 2020. It said in a statement, "Agency review teams are responsible for understanding the operations of each agency, ensuring a smooth transfer of power, and preparing for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and their cabinet to hit the ground running on Day One. These teams are composed of highly experienced and talented professionals with deep backgrounds in crucial policy areas across the federal government. The teams have been crafted to ensure they not only reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration, but reflect the diversity of perspectives crucial for addressing America’s most urgent and complex challenges."[12]

Click on Show to see the members of each of the following agency review teams.

Biden and Harris victory speeches

After media outlets—including ABC News, CNN, Fox News, NBC News, and The New York Times—reached a consensus call that Biden had won the 2020 election, he and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) delivered victory speeches in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020.[13]

Kamala Harris victory speech, November 7, 2020
Joe Biden victory speech, November 7, 2020

Transition Tracker

See also: Ballotpedia's Daily Transition Tracker

This section provides an archive of news stories related to the Biden presidential transition, as curated in Ballotpedia's Daily Transition Tracker.



See also