When it comes to filling thousands of jobs to run the federal government, Democratic Presidents always had an embarrassment of riches to choose from. Unlike the Republicans and in particular President Trump who had to contend with a host of incompetent and substandard recruits and eventually failed to fill hundreds of jobs.
It won’t come as surprise that all eyes will be on President-elect Joe Biden as he readies to name his Cabinet. Speculations are already rife about whom he will choose.
With Kamala Harris set to occupy the office of the Vice President, Indian Americans might seem already over-represented at the top echelons. Not really.
Politico magazine has identified two Indian American candidates that may still make the Biden cabinet. They are former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy to head the Department of Health and Human Services and former Acting Under Secretary of the Energy Arun Majumdar to lead the Department of Energy.
President-elect has already named Dr. Murthy, who is also former vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, to lead his Coronavirus task force, which has another Indian American member, Dr. Atul Gawande, the Harvard oncologist and Pulitzer Prize winning author.
The only impediment to Murthy’s elevation to the Cabinet, according to Politico, maybe his views on gun control. While Murthy has no issue with the Second Amendment, he does see the lack of reasonable gun control measures as a public health issue. That view did become an issue during his Senate confirmation as surgeon general in 2014, under the Obama administration.
In an interview with NPR during his tenure as Surgeon General, Dr. Murthy clarified his views saying, “When you have large numbers of people dying from preventable causes, that’s a health care issue. That’s a public health issue.”
Despite his gun control advocacy, the Senate narrowly confirmed Dr. Murthy, but only after sitting on his nomination for more than a year. And it is very rare for Senators to deny confirmation to a candidate whom they had confirmed in the past. Besides, the NRA which bitterly opposed Dr. Murthy’s previous nomination is no longer as influential in Washington, thanks to its internal problems.
Arun Majumdar, according to Politico, “is best known in Washington, D.C. as the founding leader of the Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy, making it a permanent fixture in the federal government. He later became acting under secretary of the Energy Department under then-Secretary Moniz. During the Trump administration, he did a stint at Google as vice president for energy, before joining the faculty at Stanford University.”
Apart from Cabinet level positions, there are a number of Indian and South Asian Americans who are likely to join the Biden administration in second and third rungs. Among those who might be picked could include some well-known names who have already served in the Obama administration including Neera Tanden, Neal Katyal and Preet Bharara, not to mention some new faces.