WASHINGTON, D.C. — The transition process for President-elect Joe Biden started long before the results became more clear Saturday with the campaign launching a website centered around the process.
Buildbackbetter.com has an image of Biden with the text “Biden-Harris Transition” over a blue background.
A message below that picture reads, “The crises facing the country are severe — from a pandemic to an economic recession, climate change to racial injustice — and the transition team will continue preparing at full speed so that the Biden-Harris Administration can hit the ground running on Day One.”
Certainly the process of “hitting the ground running” will be a difficult one as Biden looks to define his first 100 days in office.
Up first, Biden will have to show that his team can better handle the coronavirus pandemic. He also will have to contend with what Democrats say is the damage the Trump administration has done to the bureaucratic machinery in Washington, as well as low morale throughout the civil service.
“This will be one of the most important, most difficult and yes most costly transitions in modern American history,” Chris Korge, the Democratic National Committee’s finance chair, warned donors in a recent letter obtained by The Associated Press. “There is so much work to do.”
According to the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization that advises presidential candidates on the transition, Biden will have to name more than 4,000 political appointees to fill out his administration, including more than 1,200 requiring Senate confirmation. There are 700 key executive branch nominations that must go through Senate confirmation, 153 of which are currently vacant.
Chris Lu, executive director of President Barack Obama’s 2008 transition, said there are vacancies in some of the departments that will be key to addressing the country’s standing globally and the climate crisis.
“There’s a lot of expertise that’s just gone now — in particular, when you look at places like the State Department and the gutting of the Foreign Service or, you know, in climate agencies like EPA or Interior,” he said.
Biden is considering swift announcements of Cabinet picks that would be key in the coronavirus response, according to people involved in transition planning who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Those roles include leaders of the treasury and health and human services departments and the director of the National Economic Council.
Biden is expected to look to some of his former opponents and those he vetted as his potential running mate for top Cabinet positions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.