“America is back”, read full remarks by President-elect Joe Biden on cabinet picks

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U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday introduced his cabinet picks to the country, saying “America is back.”

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Read his full remarks below

Good afternoon.

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Today, I am pleased to announce nominations and staff for critical foreign policy and national security positions in my Administration.

It’s a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure.

And it’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back. 

Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it. Ready to confront our adversaries, not reject our allies. And ready to stand up for our values. 

In fact, in calls from world leaders in the weeks since we won this election, I’ve been struck by how much they are looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader.

This team meets this moment.

They embody my core belief that America is strongest when it works with its allies.

Collectively, this team has secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory — made possible through decades of experience working with our partners.

That’s how we truly keep America safe without engaging in needless military conflicts, and our adversaries in check and terrorists at bay. 

It’s how we counter terrorism and extremism. Control this pandemic and future ones. 

Deal with the climate crisis, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats and emerging technologies, the spread of authoritarianism, and so much more.

And while this team has unmatched experience and accomplishments, they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet these challenges with old thinking or unchanged habits.

For example, we are going to have the first woman lead the intelligence community, the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and a groundbreaking diplomat at the United Nations.

We are going to have a principal on the National Security Council whose full-time job is to fight climate change — for the first time ever.

And my national security team will be coordinated by one of the youngest national security advisors in decades.

Experience and leadership. Fresh thinking and perspective. And, an unrelenting belief in the promise of America

I’ve long said that America leads not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.

I am proud to put forward this incredible team that will lead by example.

As Secretary of State, I nominate Tony Blinken. 

There is no one better prepared for this job. 

He will be a Secretary of State who previously served in top roles on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in the State Department.

And he delivered for the American people in each place. 

For example, leading our diplomatic efforts in the fight against ISIS. Strengthening America’s alliances and position in the Asia-Pacific. Guiding our response to the global refugee crisis with compassion and determination.

He will rebuild morale and trust in the State Department, where his career in government began. And he starts off with the kind of relationships around the world that many of his predecessors had to build over years. 

I know. I’ve seen him in action. He is one of my closest and most trusted advisors.

And I know him, and his family — immigrants and refugees, a Holocaust survivor who taught him to never take for granted the very idea of America as a place of possibilities.

He is ready on Day One.

As Secretary of Homeland Security, I nominate Alejandro Mayorkas.

This is one of the hardest jobs in government. The DHS Secretary needs to keep us safe from threats at home and from abroad.

And it’s a job that plays a critical role in fixing our broken immigration system.

After years of chaos, dysfunction, and absolute cruelty at DHS, I am proud to nominate an experienced leader who has been hailed by both Democrats and Republicans.  

Ali, as he goes by, is a former U.S Attorney. Former Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Former DHS Deputy Secretary.

Helped implement DACA. Prevented attacks on the homeland.  Enhanced our cybersecurity. Helped communities recover from natural disasters. Combatted Ebola and Zika.

And while DHS affects everyone, given its critical role in immigration matters, I am proud that for the first time ever, the Department will be led by an immigrant, a Latino, who knows that we are a nation of laws and values.

And one more thing — today is his birthday.

Happy birthday, Ali.

As Director of National Intelligence, I nominate Avril Haines, the first woman in this post.

To lead our intelligence community, I did not pick a politician or a political figure.

I picked a professional.  

She is eminently qualified: Former Deputy Director of the CIA. Former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama.  

A fierce advocate for telling the truth and levelling it with decision makers.  

I know because I’ve worked with her for over a decade. Brilliant. Humble.

Can talk literature and theoretical physics, fixing cars, flying planes, and running a bookstore cafe, in a single conversation — because she’s done all of that.

Above all, if she gets word of a threat coming to our shores — like another pandemic or foreign interference in our elections — she will not stop raising the alarms until the right people take action.  

People will be able to take her word, because she always calls it like she sees it.

We are safer with Avril on the watch.

As the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, I nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

A seasoned and distinguished diplomat with 35 years in the Foreign Service, who never forgot where she came from, growing up in segregated Louisiana.

The eldest of eight. Her Dad couldn’t read or write, but she says he was the smartest person she knew. First in her family to graduate from high school, then college, with the whole world literally ahead of her, as her Dad and Mom taught her to believe.

Posts in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, Jamaica, and Liberia — where she was known as “the People’s Ambassador.”

Willing to meet with anyone  — an ambassador, a student, working people struggling to get by  — and always treating them with the same level of dignity and respect. 

She was our top State Department official in charge of Africa policy during the Ebola crisis.  

She’s received overwhelming support from her fellow career Foreign Service Officers. And she will have cabinet status because I want to hear her voice on major foreign policy decisions.

As my National Security Advisor, I choose Jake Sullivan.

He’s a once-in-a-generation intellect with the experience and temperament for one of the toughest jobs in the world.

When I was Vice President, he served as my National Security Advisor.

He was a top advisor to Secretary of State Clinton. He helped lead the early negotiations that led to the Iran Nuclear Deal. Helped broker the Gaza ceasefire in 2012. Played a key role in the Asia-Pacific rebalance in our Administration.

And in this campaign for the presidency, he served as one of my most trusted advisors  on both foreign and domestic policy, including helping me develop our COVID-19 strategy.

Jake understands my vision that economic security is national security.

He will help steer what I call a foreign policy for the Middle Class, for families like his growing up in Minnesota, where he was raised by parents who were educators and taught him the values of hard work, decency, service, and respect. 

What that means is to win the competition for the future, we need to keep us safe and secure, and build back better than ever.

We need to invest in our people, sharpen our innovative edge, and unite the economic might of democracies around the world to grow the middle class and reduce inequality — and do things like counter the predatory trade practices of our competitors and adversaries.

And before I talk about the final person for today, let me talk about this new position.

For the first time ever, the United States will have a full-time climate leader who will participate in ministerial-level meetings — that’s a fancy way of saying they’ll have a seat at every table around the world.

For the first time ever, there will be a principal on the National Security Council who will make sure climate change is on the agenda in the Situation Room.  

And for the first time ever, we will have a Presidential envoy on climate.

And he will be matched with a high-level White House Climate Policy Coordinator and policy-making structure — to be announced in December — that will lead efforts here in the U.S. to combat the climate crisis and mobilize action to meet this existential threat. 

Let me be clear: I don’t for a minute underestimate the difficulties of meeting my bold commitments to fighting climate change.  

But at the same time, no one should underestimate for a minute my determination to do just that.  

As for the man himself, if I had a former Secretary of State who helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement, or a former Presidential nominee, or a former leading Senator, or the head of a major climate organization for the job, it would show my commitment to this role.  

The fact that I picked the one person who is all of these things speaks unambiguously.  

The world will know that one of my closest friends — John Kerry — is speaking for America on one of the most pressing threats of our time.

To this team — thank you for accepting the call to serve.

And to your families, thank you for your sacrifice. We could not do this without you.

Together, these public servants will restore America’s global leadership and moral leadership. 

They will ensure our service members, diplomats, and intelligence professionals can do their jobs free of politics. 

They will not only repair, they will reimagine American foreign policy and national security for the next generation. 

And they will tell me what I need to know, not what I want to know.

To the American people, this team will make us proud to be Americans. 

And as more states certify the results of the election, there is progress to wrap up our victory.

I am pleased to have received ascertainment from GSA, to carry out a smooth and peaceful transition of power so our team can prepare to meet the challenges at hand — to control the pandemic, build back better, and protect the safety and security of the American people.

And to the United States Senate, I hope these outstanding nominees receive a prompt hearing, and that we can work across the aisle in good faith — move forward as a country.

Let’s begin the work to heal and unite America and the world.

Thank you. May God bless you. May God protect our troops.

I’ll now turn it over to the new team, starting with our next Secretary of State, Tony Blinken.

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