Bernie Sanders: Biden Needs Progressives In His Administration
The Joe Biden camp may be floating the notion of stocking his cabinet and administration with moderates and centrists to outflank Republican opposition in the Senate, but Sen. Bernie Sanders believes Biden owes his win to progressives, and owes them a say in his White House.
"There's no question, I think, to anybody's mind that the progressive community and grassroots organizations played a very, very important role in helping to defeat Trump, and elect Joe Biden," Sanders told reporters on Capitol Hill Monday.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the progressive community deserves strong representation in the Biden administration," he added. "Millions of people support our agenda. We are an important part, and critical part, of the Democratic coalition, and progressives should be a represented in the administration."
While Republicans did better in Senate and House races than polls predicted, Sanders noted that progressive priorities succeeded widely all around the country.
"I think the American people have spoken up pretty clearly on the issues of importance to them, and in fact they support a progressive agenda of raising the minimum wage to a living wage, of guaranteeing health care to more people, of creating millions of jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure," Sanders said.
Asked if he himself would be one of the progressive voices in the Biden administration, Sanders demurred.
"There are too many factors that have to be taken into consideration, but progressives should be represented in the administration and be able to fight for the agenda, which millions of people want," Sanders said.
Still, high-ranking officials need to win Senate confirmation, and Republicans would likely block any that they deem too liberal. If Democrats manage the unlikely feat of wining both of the open Senate contests in Georgia, the calculation would change.
Biden has not hinted that he would be willing to follow in President Trump's footsteps to run much of the government by naming acting secretaries and other high-ranking officials, but some on the left have raised that as a possibility.
And while Trump has indeed run major departments for extended periods with acting leaders -- such as the Department of Homeland Security -- doing so for a long time would likely raise legal questions.
Biden seems unlikely to pick a cabinet that would be extremely difficult to advance through the Senate. So far, people on his radar span the spectrum, and many have already been confirmed in the past. For instance, Politico's rundown includes Susan Rice for Secretary of State and a reprise of Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Biden could also pick some Republicans to make good on his promise to be a uniter, such as Quibi CEO Meg Whitman for Commerce Secretary.