U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is poised to nominate trade lawyer Katherine Tai as the top U.S. trade envoy, U.S. media reported Wednesday.
Tai is currently the chief trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee.
Democratic lawmakers who pushed for Tai to be Biden’s U.S. trade representative noted in particular her fluency in Mandarin and her expertise in U.S.-China relations.
If confirmed, she would be the first woman of color in the role.
A day earlier, Biden named Democratic U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Also on Tuesday, Biden nominated Tom Vilsack to lead the Department of Agriculture, a job he held for eight years under former President Barack Obama, for whom Biden served as vice president. Vilsack is also a former governor of the Midwestern state of Iowa, one of the nation’s crucial agricultural states.
Supporters of Fudge, a veteran Ohio lawmaker, included Democratic U.S. Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, who played a key role in helping Biden secure the Democratic presidential nomination.
Clyburn called on the president-elect to nominate Fudge as agriculture secretary, citing her focus on reducing hunger as a member of the House Agriculture Committee.
But sources said Biden chose Fudge for the HUD post because she has been a longtime champion of affordable housing and infrastructure investment.
Fudge is the second African American chosen by Biden for his Cabinet, following his decision Monday to name retired Army General Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. The incoming president has been under growing pressure by minority advocacy groups to fulfill his campaign promise to diversify his cabinet with a wide range of Blacks, Latinos and Asians.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will become the first woman, African American and Asian American to serve in the post, met Tuesday with Black civil rights leaders in Wilmington, Delaware, to discuss Biden's Cabinet picks.
Several activists are calling on Biden to nominate a Black person as attorney general, but the president-elect is said to be considering Democratic U.S. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, who lost his bid for re-election in last month’s general election.
Jones is a former federal prosecutor who in 2001 successfully prosecuted two members of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan group suspected of carrying out the 1963 bombing of a Black church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four young girls — one of the galvanizing events in the civil rights movement.
Biden introduced California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Tuesday as his choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
Becerra was among seven people introduced by Biden Tuesday as key members of his health care team, all of whom will lead the incoming administration’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and oversee millions of vaccinations in the coming months. They include Dr. Vivek Murthy, who has been nominated as surgeon general, a position he held from 2014 to 2017 under Obama.
Biden picked Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a top expert on virus testing, prevention and treatment in the Eastern state of Massachusetts, as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The president-elect chose Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an expert on health care disparities among racial and ethnic groups in the United States, as chair of his COVID-19 equity task force. She is an associate professor of medicine, public health and management at the Yale School of Medicine.
He also picked business executive Jeffrey Zients, a former director of the National Economic Council under Obama, as coordinator of the COVID-19 response team and a counselor to him.
Biden named former White House and Pentagon senior adviser Natalie Quillian as deputy coordinator of the government’s response to the pandemic.